News: Saber Strike unites 10 countries
Story by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
RIGA, Latvia - Approximately 4,700 service members from ten countries including the United States have come together during a kick-off ceremony for Saber Strike June 9, 2014 at the Adazi training area, Latvia.
Saber Strike is a long-standing, multilateral security cooperation exercise that is conducted at locations throughout the Baltic region. This year's objective is to facilitate cooperation amongst the United States, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to improve joint operational capability in a range of missions as well as prepare the participating nations and units to support multilateral contingency operations. A U.S. Army Europe-led exercise, Saber Strike 2014 is also supported by joint and total force service members from the U.S. Air Force, and the Army and Air National Guards.
"Saber Strike will prove invaluable to the interoperability as we move towards a post international security assistance force environment," said U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Mark T. McQueen, deputy chief of staff, mobilization and reserve affairs. "Despite the uncertainty of the world I am certain of one thing, and that is that the United States of America will continue to stand in the defense of freedom and will maintain our commitment to our partners in the face of tyranny."
Participating countries include the Baltic Nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The diverse allied nations gathered together with the goal to improve synchronized and prepared responses to regional security threats and missions.
"It is my pleasure to welcome everyone participating in Saber Strike 2014," said Raimonds Vejonis, Minister of Defense to the Republic of Latvia. "The exercise has proved to be an excellent operational tool to its allies and is important to conduct with the current security situation." Mr. Vejonis expressed appreciation for the "cooperation, contribution and willingness to strengthen and boost training activities in the region."
The various exercises conducted will focus on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and will be comprised of host nation-supported command post, computer assisted, and situational training exercises. The U.S. Air Force will also be playing a role by providing close air support to partner nation ground forces and demonstrating air deployment of forces and equipment.
"As we stand shoulder to shoulder I am personally honored to serve with you in the defense of our nations," McQueen said. "These are difficult and dynamic times but I am confident that we will continue to demonstrate to the world that we are a shining example of what the best of alliances and partnerships can look like. I thank you for the investment of your time and your energy and all that you have done to be here and I personally look forward to working with all of you."
By looking forward the United States and its allies ensure they are ready to provide capabilities and execute missions in support of combatant commands and achieve national objectives. Saber Strike, and exercises like it, allows the U.S., the Baltics and other partner nations to integrate capabilities and interoperability to help sustain alliance and partnerships, and to protect the security and stability of the region.