Courtesy of Ukraine Today
June 9, 2015

More than 6,000 troops take part in ‘Saber Strike’ operation

Thousands of troops from 13 NATO allies have been training in Lithuania as part of the annual Saber Strike exercise. More than 6,000 soldiers arrived to take part in the large scale exercises in Lithuania’s two largest training areas.

Lithuanian Major General, Almantas Leika: “It is the largest exercise of its type in Lithuania during last decade. The aim of this exercise is to train together and ensure that we achieve inter-operability in conducting military operations. Besides this, we continue building and developing trust and confidence among us, among soldiers, commanders and units. Soldiers from our nations, were deployed together on operations numerously. We know each other. Here, during Saber Strike, we’ll further what we built previously, and make sure that confidence and trust of each other do not diminish.”

The United Kingdom, which contributed participants to Saber Strike, raised its commitment to NATO’s new rapid response force on Monday, a day after US President Barack Obama pressed Prime Minister David Cameron over defence spending.

US Major General Mark Mcqueen: “This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase the incredible talent that is embedded in the formation that stands before us this day. With a focus on regional stability, inter-operability, and fostering trust and confidence in our systems, and our command operating systems. This gives us an opportunity to train hard, to hone our skills and to strengthen leadership within our formations. What is standing before us today is the tip of the spear for what exists throughout Saber Strike within Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland, representing over 6,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, that are all committed to working together to forge
peace in this region and the world.”

These latest exercises comes following a drill last month called ‘Lightning Strike’ which simulated an attack on Lithuania’s new gas terminal; a move the president said was intended to show the Kremlin that the small country can defend itself.

The drill involved some 3,000 troops and also simulated a response to armed groups seizing local government buildings, weapons stockpiles and airports in order to form a separatist government.

The scenario emulated events from last year in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, when the Black Sea territory was annexed by Russia.