Saber Strike 2018 DVIDS Photo by Sgt Gregory Summers

Cover Image by Sgt Gregory Summers

A US General has stressed the need for a NATO exercise on Russia’s flank, saying it shows unity in Europe.

Sabre Strike, the US Army Europe-led exercise, involves more than 18,000 troops from 19 NATO countries and takes place in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland from June 6 to 13.

The exercise has more than tripled in size in the last four years.

 Brigadier General Ross Coffman, Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division mission command element for Atlantic Resolve, said: "[Saber Strike] is important for the United States of America, it is important for the continent of Europe, and really it is important to the world.

"Because what it really shows is that we stand side-by-side here on the continent and support one another."


Saber Strike 2018 DVIDS photo by Spc Andrew McNeil
A British soldier guides troops from the 2d Cavalry Regiment off of a M3 Amphibious Rig Bridge. Photo by Spc. Andrew McNeil

Now in its eighth year, the exercise centres around a hypothetical attack, aiming to test the response and military cooperation between countries.

The US Army Europe has previously said the drill is "a demonstration of the commitment and solidarity of the alliance", at the time when Russia's military manoeuvres are increasingly worrying nearby NATO members, but has stressed it "is not a provocation".

Saber Strike 2018 DVIDS Photo by 1st Lt. Ellen Brabo
The 130th Deutsch Engineer Battalion began bridging operations to esablish a secure method for crossing nearly 200 Strykers and military support vehicles in Kaunas, Lithuania. Photo by 1st Lt Ellen Brabo.

On Wednesday, a section of the Neman river on the outskirts of the Lithuanian city of Kaunas became a hive of military activity as more than 150 vehicles and 700 troops attempted to cross.

More than 40 personnel from 75 Engineer Regiment Royal Engineers, as well as their German counterparts, who jointly operate the amphibious vehicles known as M3 Rig, were involved.

The M3 Rig unfold when they go into water and float, creating platforms that link together to form either a ferry or bridge, allowing vehicles to cross rivers and stretches of water.

The 130th Deutsch Engineer Battalion successfully utilizes its amphibious assets to build a ferry
The 130th Deutsch Engineer Battalion successfully utilizes its amphibious assets to build a ferry. Photo by 1st Lt Ellen Brabo.

Major Mike Podojil, 34, of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment said Sabre Strike, which has also so far included air assaults and force-on-force training, is the biggest exercise for his regiment since Desert Storm during the Gulf War.

2nd Cavalry Regiment has travelled from their base in Vilseck, Germany to Lithuania through the Czech Republic, Poland and Latvia, moving in a convoy of 2,800 personnel and 950 vehicles.

Describing the joint British and German capability of the M3 Rig as "useful", Maj Podojil added: "In this environment, the collective defence of Europe, we will have to rely on each other.

"It is very important we practice and rehearse together for all our security."