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    In the foxhole

    In the foxhole

    Photo By Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko | An Estonian soldier watches for the enemy during a Saber Strike exercise in the Adazi...... read more read more



    Story by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko 

    86th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs

    ADAZI TRAINING AREA, Latvia - The smell of burning nicotine begins to fill the small hole, a cigarette lit by an Estonian soldier taking advantage of a brief moment of peace as he waits on the front line of battle.

    Laying on the cool ground attempting to escape the unforgiving sun, he reminisces of home with his comrades as he brushes off the thousands of ants and blackened soot that has long since covered his body.

    Then, as a crackling thunder explodes in the clear blue sky, almost instantly the cigarette falls from the soldier's lips as an enemy F-16 Falcon soars above.

    “Get down!” The Estonian sergeant yells to the corporal and private.

    The ground begins to shake violently; this was the signal they were waiting for. Sprinting to their next location they dodge a barrage of artillery strikes raining down upon them. The enemy has revealed themselves for an attack and so begins an extensive military exercise testing the limits of both foreign and United States soldiers.

    This simulated battle takes place as part of Saber Strike 2014, in which 10 nations gather together to undergo various military scenarios to improve interoperability for future contingency missions. In this portion of the exercise, more than 100 Estonian veterans set up strategic points in preparation to a counter attack against the enemy, simulated by the U.S. Army and Air National Guard.

    “The hardest part of the exercise is waiting,” said Estonian Sgt. Oliver Kala, anti-tank infantry battalion. “The action moves very fast and is difficult when it happens, so it is great working with our allies to improve these skills.”

    Before separating the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia and the United States were divided by a conflict of interest. Now allies, more than laughter and friendship is shared between the two countries.

    “We were once at war long ago,” said Capt. Jaan Sarapuu, Army National Guard 103rd Engineer Battalion and Estonian descendant. “Now pieces to a bigger picture, we work together by conducting exercises like Saber Strike so we can learn invaluable tactical information which will help keep our soldiers safe.”

    As our relationships with our international partners grow, the way battle plays out in the field will continually evolve through innovation, tactics, and the men and women who swear to protect the nations they love. Experience gained from Saber Strike and exercises like it allows the United States and partner nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to gain new knowledge and methods needed to preserve freedom.



    Date Taken: 06.11.2014
    Date Posted: 06.15.2014 16:02
    Story ID: 133168

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