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  • 12
  • Jun
  • 2015
U.S., Lithuania go on offensive in Baltics during NATO exercise

By Sgt. Paul Peterson and Sgt. S.T. Stewart, Marine Corps Forces Europe

PABRADE TRAINING AREA, Lithuania -- U.S. and Lithuanian forces are partnering with one another during a NATO-backed exercise in the Baltics dedicated to demonstrating the allies’ ability to defend the region, June 9-16, 2015. 

The exercise is known as Saber Strike. The U.S. force taking part are Marines with the Black Sea Rotational Force based in Romania.

“It is the largest exercise in Lithuania during the last decade,” said Lithuanian Maj. Gen. Almantas Leika during the first day of the exercise. “We continue building and developing trust among soldiers, commanders and units. Soldiers from our nations have already deployed together on operations numerously. We know each other. Here, during Saber Strike, we will further what we built previously.”

More than 7,000 service members from the U.S. and 15 allied and participating nations will join in Saber Strike exercises across Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland between June 8-19. Approximately 3,000 service members are currently locked in a series of highly-realistic training scenarios with their U.S. Marine partners in Lithuania.

“Being here and participating, Marines in particular, shows that we are still committed to NATO and we’re still committed to our allies over here,” said 1st Lt. Seth Kellogg, a platoon commander with BSRF. “They’re starting to see that big picture piece and the importance of when the Marine Corps comes out and works with these other forces. All the Marines are seeing that by being here.”

The nearly 200 Marines from Black Sea Rotational Force patrolled for hours with a Lithuanian reconnaissance unit spearheading their advance on an entrenched force from the German military for the first day of training. The participating nations alternated their positions for the following day, allowing each to work side by side. 

Head-to-head exercises and multi-lateral maneuvers are a key feature to Saber Strike, which is designed to enhance cooperation in planning and executing military operations and promote security and stability in the region.
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