US and Lithuanian armed forces are conducting a tactical field training exercise, code-named Exercise Black Arrow 2014, at Gaiziunu Training Range in Rukla, Lithuania.
Involving 1500 paratroopers from the US Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade and Lithuanian Mechanised Infantry Brigade (Mib), the exercise focuses on defensive operations and interoperability between the two NATO allies.
The participants will perform procedures including combat preparation, tactical movement, drill operations in a chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) contaminated area, and prepare for defence and tactical defensive actions.
In addition, the soldiers will also improve command and control (C2) procedures, coordination of actions, and carry out operational planning and tactical decision-making, among other tasks.
173rd Airborne Brigade, 503rd Infantry Regiment 1st Battalion Company B commander captain Nicholas Salimbene said the soldiers will initially carry out combined platoon-level exercises and company-level defensive operations in the following weeks.
Lithuanian Land Forces commander major general Almantas Leika said the military will train all arms into the exercise, including an airborne assault.
"We will continue building and maintaining the trust and confidence in each other that we achieved during our operations together in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan," Leika said.
Scheduled to be carried out in phases, the exercise will serve as a certification for the Lithuanian staff, and provide training for both units leading up to Exercise Saber Strike, a security cooperation event focused on the three Baltic States, which will be held next month.
Around 600 173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers are currently based in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, as part of an unscheduled land-forces exercise to demonstrate a commitment to Nato obligations and maintain interoperability with allied forces.
Image: US and Lithuanian paratroopers at a ceremony to open Exercise Black Arrow 2014 in Rukla, Lithuania. Photo: courtesy of Sgt A.M. LaVey, 173rd Airborne Brigade Public Affairs.