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US, partners complete Saber Strike 18

A Latvian MI-17 Helicopter lands during a large scale battle scenario in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The helicopter was directed in by Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to pick up simulated injured personnel. The battle was part of Saber Strike 18 and pieced together communication, tactics, and other facets of military operation into one scenario. Saber Strike aims to improve strategic partnerships, ability to operate in the dynamic security environment, and to maintain readiness of forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A Latvian MI-17 Helicopter lands during a large scale battle scenario in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The helicopter was directed in by Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to pick up simulated injured personnel. The battle was part of Saber Strike 18 and pieced together communication, tactics, and other facets of military operation into one scenario. Saber Strike aims to improve strategic partnerships, ability to operate in the dynamic security environment, and to maintain readiness of forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Green smoke marks the landing zone for a Latvian MI-17 Helicopter to land for a simulated medical evacuation during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The battle was part of Saber Strike 18 and pieced together communication, tactics, and other facets of military operation into one scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Green smoke marks the landing zone for a Latvian MI-17 Helicopter to land for a simulated medical evacuation during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The battle was part of Saber Strike 18 and pieced together communication, tactics, and other facets of military operation into one scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Italian Forces apply camouflage before a large scale exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The exercise was a part of Saber Strike 18 and featured a defending force comprised of Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian Platoons; and an attacking force comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces. Saber Strike 18 is the eighth iteration of the long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise enhancing interoperability among allies and regional partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Italian Forces apply camouflage before a large scale exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The exercise was a part of Saber Strike 18 and featured a defending force comprised of Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian Platoons; and an attacking force comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces. Saber Strike 18 is the eighth iteration of the long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise enhancing interoperability among allies and regional partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A door blows open by the force of a detonated charge during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. Attacking Forces comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces during a battle simulation for Saber Strike. Saber Strike 18 is the eighth iteration of the long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise enhancing interoperability among allies and regional partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A door blows open by the force of a detonated charge during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. Attacking Forces comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces during a battle simulation for Saber Strike. Saber Strike 18 is the eighth iteration of the long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise enhancing interoperability among allies and regional partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II flies by and “drops ordinance” during a large scale battle scenario in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The battle was part of Saber Strike 18 and pieced together communication, tactics, and other facets of military operation into one scenario. More than 150 total sorties were flown during Saber Strike to help build communication and partnership between air units and ground units of participating nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II flies by and “drops ordinance” during a large scale battle scenario in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The battle was part of Saber Strike 18 and pieced together communication, tactics, and other facets of military operation into one scenario. More than 150 total sorties were flown during Saber Strike to help build communication and partnership between air units and ground units of participating nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Norwegian Forces survey a simulated battlefield during a large scale battle scenario in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The battle featured a defending force comprised of Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian Platoons; and an attacking force comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces. Saber Strike included approximately 18,000 participants from 19 countries to continue building on interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Norwegian Forces survey a simulated battlefield during a large scale battle scenario in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The battle featured a defending force comprised of Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian Platoons; and an attacking force comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces. Saber Strike included approximately 18,000 participants from 19 countries to continue building on interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Members of a simulated defense force defend their post during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The exercise was a part of Saber Strike 18 and featured a defending force comprised of Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian Platoons; and an attacking force comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces. Saber Strike 18 is the eighth iteration of the long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise enhancing interoperability among allies and regional partners.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Members of a simulated defense force defend their post during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The exercise was a part of Saber Strike 18 and featured a defending force comprised of Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian Platoons; and an attacking force comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces. Saber Strike 18 is the eighth iteration of the long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise enhancing interoperability among allies and regional partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Members of a Canadian Platoon fire at opposing forces during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. Canadian forces were teamed with Spanish, Italian, and Latvian platoons to act as a defending force during a battle simulation for Saber Strike 18. Saber Strike included approximately 18,000 participants from 19 countries to continue building on interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Members of a Canadian Platoon fire at opposing forces during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. Canadian forces were teamed with Spanish, Italian, and Latvian platoons to act as a defending force during a battle simulation for Saber Strike 18. Saber Strike included approximately 18,000 participants from 19 countries to continue building on interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A member of the Canadian military waits for opposing forces to move during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. Canadian forces were teamed with Spanish, Italian, and Latvian platoons to act as a defending force during a battle simulation for Saber Strike 18. One of Saber Strike’s major focuses is to build strong and strategic partnerships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A member of the Canadian military waits for opposing forces to move during an exercise in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. Canadian forces were teamed with Spanish, Italian, and Latvian platoons to act as a defending force during a battle simulation for Saber Strike 18. One of Saber Strike’s major focuses is to build strong and strategic partnerships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Explosive charges detonate on a simulated battlefield during a large scale battle scenario in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The scenario was a part of Saber Strike 18 and featured a defending force comprised of Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian Platoons; and an attacking force comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)
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Explosive charges detonate on a simulated battlefield during a large scale battle scenario in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. The scenario was a part of Saber Strike 18 and featured a defending force comprised of Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian Platoons; and an attacking force comprised of U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A U.S. Marine breaches a building during a large scale battle scenario during Saber Strike 18 in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. U.S Marines teamed with United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces as the attacking force whose objective was to remove opposing forces. Saber Strike aims to improve strategic partnerships, ability to operate in the dynamic security environment, and to maintain readiness of forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)
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A U.S. Marine breaches a building during a large scale battle scenario during Saber Strike 18 in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018. U.S Marines teamed with United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces as the attacking force whose objective was to remove opposing forces. Saber Strike aims to improve strategic partnerships, ability to operate in the dynamic security environment, and to maintain readiness of forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

SKRUNDA, Latvia --

Saber Strike 18, wrapped up with a large scale battle scenario involving multiple countries in Skrunda, Latvia on June 13, 2018.

Following Saber Strike’s focuses to build stronger partnerships, agility in a dynamic environment, and ready and postured forces, the scenario combined multiple facets of joint-military operation on the battlefield with different nations.

“Exercises like this help build relationships,” Capt. Rihards Zalitis, Latvian Armed Forces Range Control Officer. “This year we had the (Enhance Forward Presence) Battle Group and many other nations that we get to work with. We see how they work, they see how we work, and it makes us better every day.”

Forces that participated included: Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Latvian platoons as the defending force with the objective to delay the attacking forces as long as possible; and U.S. Marines, United Kingdom Royal Marines, Michigan Army National Guard, and Norwegian Forces as the attacking force.

While the battle scenario was the culminating exercise for Saber Strike 18 in Latvia, it is only a small part of the effort put into Saber Strike.

During the timespan of Saber Strike 18, KC-135 Stratotankers flew approximately 32 hours and have refueled 99 aircraft between A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and B-1 Lancers. The A-10s alone flew 96 sorties since they arrived in Latvia. Altogether the aircraft were used in efforts to finetune the combination of air and ground forces.

“This type of training works great,” said Maj. Deryck Castonguay, 171st Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker Instructor Pilot. “It allows us to integrate our people with partners, and to work in other nations to gain experience.”

Even though the exercise was finished in Latvia o June 13, other countries that participated in Saber Strike continued training exercises until June 15, 2018.

One such force included the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft with approximately 20 hours of support during the exercise. The MQ-9 provided close air support, armed overwatch, and an airfield seizure along with its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions for Saber Strike.

Saber Strike is intended to promote regional stability and security, while also strengthening partnership capabilities. The combined training opportunities that it provided greatly improve interoperability among participating NATO Allies and key regional partners.

“These partnerships would never happen if it wasn’t for big exercises like this,” said Master Sgt. Chuck Barth, Grayling Air Gunnery Range Joint Terminal Attack Controller Instructor. “This is a really good thing for everybody.”

In regard to being an opportunity for growth and development of forces, Saber Strike was a huge success.

“Saber Strike 18 accomplished everything we set out to do this year,” said Evette Seck, lead United States Air Forces in Europe planner for Saber Strike 18. “From building partnerships and integration, to combining the facets of air and ground capabilities for quick precise responses, the participating nations made it happen. This is what Saber Strike brings to the table, and the next iteration should be even better.”