US armored units on move toward annual military exercise in Baltics

US Stryker armored combat vehicles participating in a military exercise in Lithuania. May 2015. (Petras Malukas/AFP/Scanpix)
5/27/2016 2:09 PM
Category: News

Armored units from the US Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment began their motorized journey from Vilseck, Germany to Estonia and the other Baltic States in order to participate in the annual US Army Europe (USAREUR) military exercise Saber Strike, which will be held across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in June.

The objective of Operation Dragoon Ride, as the journey is known, is to practice the rapid deployment of the US Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment across Europe. Over the course of the journey, columns consisting primarily of Stryker armored combat vehicles and other support vehicles will travel more than 2,400 kilometers, or 1,500 miles, through six European countries to reach Tapa Army Base in Estonia as well as military training grounds in Latvia and Lithuania. The two columns include a total of nearly 400 units of equipment, which will be split up among the three Baltic States for the military exercise.

During their journey, the soldiers will be making stops and conducting cooperation exercises, including for example tactical bottlenecks such as bridge crossings. Stops will also be made in various towns along the way to meet with locals and show off their equipment.

In Estonia, the two military columns will be stopping in Valga and Tartu on June 9, in Sillamäe on June 11, and in Pärnu on June 14, where various public events will be organized as well.

Operation Saber Strike, which is slated to begin on June 13, is dedicated to practicing cooperation between ground and air force units as well as the reception of allied troops. Nearly 10,000 soldiers from 13 NATO and partner states will be taking part this year. Participating units will be divided among the three Baltic States; nearly 1,500 US troops are expected to arrive in Estonia for the exercise.

In addition to American troops, Latvia and Lithuania will be sending company-sized units, Finland a platoon-sized unit and Denmark and Slovenia staff officers to take part in the operation.

Estonia is heading Operation Saber Strike this year. The military exercise will consist of multiple segments, of which the first, the staff procedure-centered Saber Knight, will begin on Monday, May 30 in Tapa. The exercise’s tactical segments will be conducted at Tapa Army Base, the Defence Forces Central Training Area and Ämari Air Base as well as at training grounds in Latvia and Lithuania.

Saber Strike will conclude with a closing ceremony at Tapa Army Base on June 21.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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