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‘Durable’ brigade Soldiers participate in Saber Strike

By Sgt. Tamara Thompson | 1ST INF. DIV. SUST. BDE. PUBLIC AFFAIRS | July 26, 2017

      Soldiers assigned to the 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade have been working in support of Saber Strike from May to June in the Baltic region conducting a joint training mission.

      The 1st Inf. Div. Sust. Bde. was responsible for the reception, staging and movement operations while in Lithuania. The 1st Inf. Div. Sust. Bde. staged all of the deploying allied and partner nations to designated exercise locations, said Capt. Kenneth Cummings, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Inf. Div. Sust. Bde.

      The main objective of this year’s Saber Strike NATO exercise was to enhance the Forward Presence Battle Groups. The exercise stressed the focus on interoperability with Allies and regional partners and improving joint operational capability in a variety of missions. The eFP Battle Groups stationed in Lithuania is part of the commitment by the U.S. and NATO Allies and Partners to deter aggression throughout Europe, Cummings said.

      Saber Strike is an ongoing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training effort focused on Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. This year’s participants in the exercise include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. The vast and diverse array of countries added to the exercise in more than just a cultural exchange. It provided an opportunity for all countries to conduct interoperability training, share different ways of doing this and continued to build upon the strong NATO foundation, Cummings said.

      For one Soldier, Spc. Matthew Fletcher, HHC, 1st Inf. Div. Sust. Bde., the mission had a more personal meaning. He said he used some of the time to rediscover his roots during his time in Lithuania.

      “I was able to learn about the culture and some of the history,” Fletcher said.

     Fletcher got the opportunity to eat with some of the Lithuanian soldiers and they introduced to him some of the local dishes.

     “Working with NATO Forces and establishing friendships was what I liked the most,” he said. “And the food was awesome.”

    It was not all a cultural lesson for Fletcher, as he provided communications for Klaipeda, the port city, and performed communication maintenance. During this multinational event, he was taught from his Lithuanian counterparts more about the capabilities of his own equipment and theirs.

     “It was good to get out there and compare how we things,” Fletcher said.

     During the exercise, some of the training included fueler training, medical training and laundry/shower services exchange. Training was not only done with American allies, but also with the Minnesota Army National Guard. The medical training conducted with the Croatian forces was well received by the Sustainment Brigade Soldiers said Cummings.

     This training experience was extremely special for Spc. Samuel McCord, of HHC, 1st Inf. Div. Sust. Bde. He said this was his first time traveling out of the country while serving in the Army.

      McCord was able to work with the NATO Force Integration Unit in Lithuania, which include conducting research on the region and briefing the command team and VIPs about situational changes and significant activity that occurred during the exercise.

     “I learned about the region and the people and possible scenarios that could happen,” McCord said.

     While being in the Baltic region, McCord described his experience as fun and stressed the importance of maintaining a U.S. presence in the region to ensure the countries have the opportunity to grow and continue to stabilize.

     Saber Strike demonstrates the United States’ continued commitment to the security and sovereignty of our allies. There is a common interest among the U.S., its NATO allies, and partners to assert a Europe that is whole, at peace, and prosperous. Future Saber Strike missions will continue strengthen partner capabilities and foster trust. The combined training improves interoperability with NATO allies and regional partners and fosters good will and open communications, Cummings said.

 

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