ADAZI, Latvia - "When I see a Latvian Soldier, I see a NATO Soldier. When I see an American Soldier, I see a NATO soldier," said Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges, commander U.S. Army Europe, on Monday Jan. 19, 2015 for the "Welcoming Ceremony" for the Soldiers of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Hodges ensured the alliance was stronger than it had ever been, citing America's commitment to security for its allies and the rest of the world.
He said the men and women working together are the manifestation of what he is calling ''Strong Europe" and he is very proud to see the troops standing side-by-side.
Latvian Minister of Defense, Raimonds Vejonis, and Latvian National Armed Forces Commander, Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, accompanied Hodges on a tour of the instillation as well as met with the soldiers stationed here.
"We see the United States as our main strategic partner and a significant contributor to the security of the Baltic Region," Vejonis said. "We will continue these efforts to keep the alliance strong and secure."
Vejonis stressed the importance of friends in this time and pointed out that the United States has shown its commitment to that friendship.
Since the soldiers have been here, he said, they have shown the people of Latvia that they have a strong, true partner.
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment is taking over where the 1st Cavalry Division left off. They will train and live with the Armed Forces of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. The unit will deploy throughout the Baltic States as well participate in a variety of training exercises throughout the region.
For Pfc. Logan Hatton, Rifleman, with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, its his first time in his early military career that he has been attached to an operation like this.
"The 1st Cavalry Division left everything in pretty good condition for us," said Hatton. "We're just picking up where they left off and can hopefully improve and make the situation here better."
Hatton expressed his excitement to work with the Latvian military, "It'll be good to gain a different prospective in the training environment. We can put our knowledge out there and teach them as well as gain some knowledge from them."
The visit was definitely a morale booster and it showed them to always be prepared, he said. Especially as a striker unit since they are always mounted in vehicles, on the move, and always need to be ready for anything.
"I have high expectations for this operation and it's training," Hatton said. "I'm hoping for a solid good three months for the unit here so that we can improve what we're good at and we can sustain what we're great at."
Graube, who was the last to speak said, "I am honored to welcome you all to Latvian soil. For all of you to be in Latvia when we need you the most, fighting together for the freedom [of] our nations."
This work, Latvia welcomes the Dragoons for Atlantic Resolve, by MAJ Neil Penttila, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.