Exercise Saber Strike 2013 demonstrates international cooperation

June 3, 2013

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, U.S. Army Europe’s senior enlisted Soldier (left), discusses his time as a cavalry scout with a soldier from the Royal Danish Life Guards during a visit to Hoevelte Barracks in Birkeroed, Denmark, May 21. The visti was part of the three-day Conference of European Armies for Noncommissioned Officers co-hosted by U.S. Army Europe and the Royal Danish Army. The event brought together senior NCOs from 32 European nations and the U.S. to share tactics and techniques that build relationships and interoperability among European, U.S. and other allied and partner forces. The event is a key component of USAREUR's theater security cooperation program. (U.S. Army Europe photo by Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado)

ADAZI, Latvia -- U.S. Army Europe and its regional partners in the Baltic began exercise “Saber Strike,” a multi-national military exercise scheduled for June 3- 14. The exercise spans multiple locations in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and involves approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries.

To mark the occasion, participants held opening ceremonies at major training areas across the three countries.

Lithuania, the host nation for this year’s exercise, held its ceremony at the Pabrade Training Area, with the Chief of Lithuanian Land Forces and exercise co-director, Maj. Gen. Almantas Leika presiding.

“I’m proud to have the privilege to act as the co-exercise director and be able to contribute to the exercise,” said Leika. “I believe that this kind of exercise is the best way to share our experience, train troops and learn from each other. We all should work in the spirit of close cooperation, confidence and good initiative. With that, I expect a demonstration of professionalism, high motivation and skills throughout the exercise. This is what will help us achieve the goals and objectives of Saber Strike."

Similar ceremonies were held at the Adazi Training Area, Latvia and Tapa, Estonia respectively.

Latvian Armed Forces Joint Staff Commander, Brig. Gen. Juris Zeibarts, presided over the Adazi ceremony.

Chief of Estonian Land Forces, Col. Artur Tiganik and the Commander of NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast, Polish Army Major General Bogusław Samol, presided over the ceremony in Tapa.

The Saber Strike exercise program, now in its third year, is part of an ongoing USAREUR cooperative training effort primarily focused on the three Baltic States: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The exercise is designed to promote regional stability, strengthen international military partnerships, enhance multinational interoperability and prepare participants for worldwide contingency operations.

This year’s exercise also includes participation from Finland, France, Great Britain, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, the U.S. Army and Air National Guard, and U.S. Army Cadet Command. Norway and Sweden will send observers.

Units from USAREUR include the headquarters’ Contingency Command Post, Joint Multinational Training Command, Joint Multinational Simulation Center, Observer Coach Trainers from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, 5th Signal Command, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, 18th Engineer Brigade and 234th Engineer Detachment.

Chief of Operations for USAREUR Col. Frederick Jessen, explains the role of the USAREUR’s CCP, which provides the command and control war fighting functions in this year’s Saber Strike exercise.

“The [CCP] provides command and control between partnered brigades and battalions from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland,” Jessen said. “What you are going to see [in Lithuania] is primarily a command-post exercise, with field and situational training in Latvia.”

U.S. Air Forces in Europe are providing Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, a Contingency Response Group and the demonstration of Expeditionary Medical Support capabilities with units from Aviano Air Base in Italy, Ramstein Air Base in Germany and a contingent from Camp Bullis, Texas.

The Pennsylvania Army National Guard is also participating in both the command-post exercise with a command and control element and the field-training exercise with a platoon of light infantry, and cadets from the Reserve Officer Training Corps.

Pennsylvania Army National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig talked about the Guard's long-standing relationship with Lithuania.

“[The Pennsylvania Army National Guard] has had a partner program with the Lithuanians for 20 years and it’s grown into a much more professional, larger and longer relationship,” Craig said. “It’s important to build relationships over a period of time, so if you are ever called to serve on the battlefield with one another, you understand each other. We all train to NATO standards, so it’s a real combat multiplier.”

The Maryland Air National Guard is providing A-10 close-air support aircraft. The Pennsylvania Air National Guard is supporting with KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft. The Washington Air National Guard will also support with Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.

NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast Command Post, comprised of personnel from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the U.S., is participating in the exercise near Tapa, Estonia with a contingent from its headquarters based in Szczecin, Poland. The unit’s participation in the exercise provides excellent opportunities to build partner capacity and enhance regional cooperation said Polish Army Lt. Col. Wojciech Wisniewski.

Visit the U.S. Army Europe Saber Strike website, Flickr and Facebook for up-to-date photos and information on Saber Strike 2013.

About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned to advance American strategic interests across Eurasia and has unparalleled capability to prevent conflict, shape the environment and, if necessary, win decisively. The relationships we build during more than 1000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships, and enhance global security.