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    Lithuania Land Forces hosts Thunder Strike with US and Danish forces

    Lithuania Land Forces hosts Thunder Strike with US and Danish forces

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Epperson | Maj. Lawrence Rubal (center), Thunder Strike U.S. lead planner and 4th Infantry...... read more read more

    NEMENCINE, Lithuania - The Lithuanian Land Forces conducted a brigade level map and tactical decision exercise called “Thunder Strike” with members of the U.S. and Danish forces at the Warfare Training Centre in Nemencine, Lithuania, Dec. 16-17, 2015.

    The two-day exercise began with Maj. Gen. Almantas Leika, commander of the Lithuanian Land Forces welcoming participating members from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division with observer-controller teams from the 4th Infantry Division Mission Command Element, United States Army Europe and members of the Danish Division, Denmark.

    “This exercise is developing from what we studied a year ago,” Leika said. “We are standing up two brigade headquarters so this event [provides] serious training for these two organizations and will be the first step in their development.”

    Maj. Lawrence Rubal, Thunder Strike U.S. lead planner and 4th ID MCE Fire Support Officer said the Lithuanian Land Forces are currently developing new brigades which are meeting as a staff for the first time to participate in planning and military decision-making processes.

    “As the new brigades develop their standard operation procedures, they will get the U.S., Danish and sister Lithuanian brigade perspectives,” said Rubal, a native of Old Forge, Pennsylvania. “That’s really what this is all about. The OC/T portion is important, but less so than all partners gaining an understanding of how each ally plans. A lot of time we don’t talk about the doctrinal interoperability. We talk about the technical interoperability. It’s also about the staff interoperability portion. We have different methodologies and mannerisms and having the Danish Division here adds to that dynamic.”

    Rubal said there was a shared understanding across the three different nations and shared respect for each other and what they know and do.

    “It is one thing to be partnered with other units talking on the phone or exchanging emails, but it’s another thing to be on the ground with units like the Danish Division and the Lithuanians,” Rubal said. “Then you can actually go through a planning exercise side by side, because that’s when you really start to understand clearly how each entity operates, you get to put faces to names and it really kind of solidifies that alliance between countries and maybe more importantly, the people.”

    Maj. Vitalijas Anisimenko, assigned to the Lithuanian Land Forces HQ, G3 Training Branch, said, “I am glad to see 1ABCT, 3rd ID willing to participate with us to exercise interoperability; not just with systems, but with human interoperability.”

    Anisimenko said the brigades will conduct a similar exercise next year followed by a CPX and war gaming session with the plans developed during this training.

    “We try to focus our exercise on the pieces of terrain that we think could be used for our home defense,” Anisimenko said. “We also used this exercise to develop our newly formed brigade headquarters. This is 2nd Brigades first exercise, so I think it’s good for them to get together and start thinking and building their SOPs and practice.”

    While the 4ID MCE and USAREUR observed 2nd and 3rd Brigades, the Danish Division worked with the Iron Wolf Brigade.

    “Our goal is only to help the Iron Wolf Brigade as they are affiliated to our division,” said Maj. Jakob Buus, G-5 head of branch, The Danish Division. “We will support their staff in the best possible way. We are not here to evaluate, but we are here to help if they have any questions or to elaborate on how to [develop] a feasible plan on a division level.”

    Buus said other goals where to network with other U.S. units for future collaborations and have a better understanding what each other is doing to join efforts instead of working separately.

    “We really hope that the exercise will be a success and to create a joint venture for the future where we can learn from each other and get our levels of expertise even higher.”



    Date Taken: 12.22.2015
    Date Posted: 12.22.2015 11:34
    Story ID: 185147
    Location: NEMENCINE, LT
    Hometown: OLD FORGE, PA, US

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