ADAZI, Latvia --
For the second time during their deployment to Eastern Europe, Marines with Black Sea Rotational Force 17.1 have landed at Adazi Military Base, Latvia. This time, for Exercise Saber Strike 17, a nearly two-week multinational combined-arms training event across the Baltic region from June 3-15, 2017.
“[Exercise Saber Strike 17] was an opportunity for us to come together with our NATO Allies and partner forces to train,” said 1st Lt. Michael Hanson, an 81mm mortars platoon commander with BSRF. “I was highly impressed with the tactics, techniques and procedures that each country brought to the table.”
From Slovakian and U.S Marine M1A1 Abrams tanks firing in unison to the British Royal Marine Commandos and U.S. Marines setting explosive charges, the camaraderie was nearly instant; the execution of the training was at its finest since the beginning of the deployment.
“The combined effort that we managed to achieve was outstanding,” said Hanson. “Together, we all saw how good we can be by the end.”
The improved knowledge and ability of the Marines showed during the combined live-fire exercise, as each section employed their various weapons systems to open up a way for the next.
“Our Marines have improved a lot from going on numerous exercises like this,” said Hanson. “We saw other ways of doing things that challenged the way we operate and we’ve gotten better ourselves.”
For the Marines of BSRF, this was another opportunity to work alongside their NATO counterparts, being able to learn from each other and improving their cohesion through various events and ranges.
“We’re trying to send a message that something’s are worth protecting,” said Hanson. “I got the message from other countries that they feel the same way; we’re here to defend freedom because it’s worth defending.”