Military personnel from nine NATO member countries have completed an inaugural multinational combined-arms exercise at the General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area in Lithuania.
Called Iron Sword 2014, the exercise featured approximately 2,500 soldiers from Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, as well as the UK and the US.
Organised under the Nato Military Training and Exercise Programme, the exercise was aimed at strengthening multinational military cooperation and interoperability.
Lithuanian Land Forces commanding general major general Almantas Leika said: "The theme of this exercise is to train together and ensure we achieve interoperability while conducting military operations.
"Besides this, we are building and developing trust and confidence amongst our soldiers, commanders and units."
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskait said: "Collective defence is the basis of the united and strong Nato.
"The Wales Summit agreed on concrete collective defence measures for the Baltic States.
"This exercise is a good proof that Nato is placing special focus on our security and taking concrete measures to ensure it."
During the final phase of the exercise, US Cavalry soldiers conducted hasty defence and attack manoeuvres, dismounted patrols and other missions in Stryker and Bradley fighting vehicles, alongside infantry units from Canada, Estonia, Hungary and the UK.
The manoeuvres were also supported by an air defence unit from the Czech Republic and reconnaissance units from Luxembourg and Germany.
Representing the first large-scale Nato exercise hosted in the Baltic nation, Iron Sword 2014 also served to certify units of the Lithuanian Land Forces for standby for the Nato Response Force, in 2015 and 2016.
US soldiers participated in the event as part of the larger US Army Europe-led Atlantic Resolve, a multinational combined-arms exercise involving the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and host nations, which is taking place across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
The exercise is designed to boost multinational interoperability, strengthen relationships among allied militaries, and also contributes to regional stability and demonstrates the US commitment to Nato.
Image: US Cavalry soldiers dismount from Bradley vehicles to engage opposing Lithuanian and Estonian forces concealed in the woods during Iron Sword 2014. Photo: courtesy of Staff Sgt Keith Anderson.