Flags unfurl during opening ceremony Saber Strike 17
By 1st Lt. Kristine Racicot, Marine Corps Forces Reserves
Allied and partner nations have unfurled their flags for the opening ceremony of Exercise Saber Strike 17 on Adazi Military Base, Latvia, June 3, 2017.
The exercise began with Maritime Prepositioning Force operations, on May 22 and now transitions to combined live-fire exercises and field training exercises of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups.
Prior to the start of the exercise, various units from Marine Forces Reserve conducted in-stream and pier-side offloads of equipment from United States Naval Ship Sgt. William R. Button, a Maritime Prepositioning Ship. Other equipment was also extracted from Norwegian caves as a part of the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway to support the execution of this year’s iteration.
Maj. Gen. Leonids Kalnins, chief of defense of Latvia, and Maj. Gen. Neal Loidolt, commanding general of the 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, opened the ceremony with their statements.
“I’m looking forward to the challenging, realistic, and successful exercise,” said Loidolt.
Both speakers emphasized the importance of strengthening each other’s capabilities, developing relationships and increasing readiness to deter any threat.
Eight of the twenty countries participating in the exercise to include Latvia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, and the United States, stood together in formation as their respective flags were raised.
“Exercises like Saber Strike allow us to enhance our interoperability and set the conditions for future operations,” said Col. Matthew Puglisi, U.S. Marine Corps task-force commander for the exercise.
The exercise task-force command element is lead by Combat Logistics Regiment 45, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve. This exercise demonstrates the capabilities that reserve units bring to the fight from both a logistical and ground-combat element perspective; MARFORRES Marines are seamlessly integrating and providing support to the Marines of the Black Sea Rotational Force 17.1.
“This exercise for Marine Forces Reserve demonstrates our ability to be ready, relevant, and responsive pushing forward and projecting our combat power,” said Puglisi.