US General Stresses Need For NATO Exercise On Russia’s Flank
The exercise has more than tripled in size in the last four years, involving 18,000 troops from 19 NATO countries including the UK.
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."
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".
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.
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."