Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the Eastern Frontier of NATO

The new NATO members of the Baltic States are surely happy to have US troops on the ground in their territory:

Saber Strike is a multi-national, joint exercise conducted in Latvia and Estonia. It is led by U.S. Army Europe and held from June 10-22, 2012. The Saber Strike exercise was developed to improve coalition interoperability, enhance the combat readiness of all participants, and facilitate a professional exchange with our NATO partners. By providing this training opportunity for U.S. Forces with our partners in the Baltic region, we get a chance to train on important combat tasks alongside of Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonia forces.

The exercise focus is on interoperability at the tactical level. Training on mission command is accomplished by conducting a combined-staff brigade-level command post exercise. Countries involved in the command post exercise (CPX) include: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. combined tactical training is conducted as well with a field training exercise and a situational training exercise component. Countries involved in the field training exercise (FTX) and situational training exercise (STX) include: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Canada, Finland and the United States.

United States units participating come from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command out of Kaiserslautern, Germany, 2nd Cavalry Regiment out of Vilseck, Germany, and a Stryker company from the Pennsylvania National Guard. Additionally, a company of Marines from the 4th Marine Division and elements of the Michigan and Washington Air National Guards are also participating.

The 2nd ACR is also a Stryker unit. The Marine unit is a Marine Corps Reserve unit. Plus Air National Guard aircraft, apparently, from Michigan and Washington.

It is good to have NATO units on the ground there to remind Russia that they really aren't getting the Baltic States back.

Right now, light infantry and wheeled armored infantry are on the ground. I'll be happier when we have heavier forces available and a real plan to defend these new NATO nations, but this is a good start.