News: Latvian and Michigan officials oversee joint training at Lielvarde
Story by Sgt. Alexandria Jones
LIELVARDE AIR BASE, Latvia - Michigan, Latvian and other officials attended a ceremony following a culminating exercise involving Soldiers of the 2nd Platoon, 46th Military Police Company and the Latvian soldiers of the 55th Infantry Battalion at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, Aug. 24, 2014.
The speakers for the event included Latvia Minister of Defense Raimonds Vejonis, Latvian Commanding General Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, and 177th Military Police Brigade Commander Col. Stephen Potter. All officials got the chance to oversee the integration of Guardsmen and Latvian soldiers training on military tasks essential to optimizing security efforts.
“We are personally governed by two key words: Pride in our more than 20-year relationship with your country and commitment - our commitment moving forward at the soldier level, at the unit level and the state of Michigan with the country of Latvia level,” Potter said. “The 46th Military Police Company, part of the 177th MP Brigade, is the best unit we have. We chose them specifically for their capabilities and their professionalism.”
“What I saw in the training area is that our forces and your forces have integrated seamlessly and are learning from each other,” Potter added.
Graube expressed his gratitude and welcomed the Guardsmen to the Latvia soil.
“I thank you for this professional help. It’s important for all of us,” Graube said. “The Michigan National Guard was one of the first units that came to Latvia and the first will always be the first.”
The minister of defense, Vejonis, also thanked the Michigan National Guard for their long-term support to the Latvian Army and told the Soldiers to enjoy the history, land, and culture of Riga during their cultural day experience.
Following the ceremony, Capt. Brice Kerschen, commander of the 46th MP Company, honored Maj. Ingus Manfelds, 55th Infantry battalion commander, with an engraved sword for allowing the Guardsmen to work with his unit.
The 46th MP Company will continue to train on mission-essential tasks in the following weeks with other Latvian Army National Guard units.
The 46th Military Police Company from Cheboygan, Michigan, is conducting Winds of Change, a training exercise designed specifically for the company element to train alongside Latvian soldiers. Through the National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program, Michigan National Guard and Latvia forces have an ongoing 22-year partnership to strengthen security defense measures. All U.S. efforts in support of our NATO allies and partners in Europe fall under the umbrella of Operation Atlantic Resolve.