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Airmen kick off Saber Strike with European partners

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress flies over Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia, June 13, 2016.  U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010.  Our presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress flies over Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia, June 13, 2016. U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. Our presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

A Norwegian soldier attacks opposing forces during a training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia.  U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010.  Our presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

A Norwegian soldier attacks opposing forces during a training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia. U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. Our presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

British soldiers review a map before a training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia.  U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010.  Our presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

British soldiers review a map before a training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia. U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. Our presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

British army Maj. Duncan Allen, 1st Battalion Royal Regiment Fusiliers member, monitors his personnel during training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia.  U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010.  Our presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

British army Maj. Duncan Allen, 1st Battalion Royal Regiment Fusiliers member, monitors his personnel during training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia. U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. Our presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

NATO forces await an attack from opposing forces during a training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia.  U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010.  SbS16 rapidly deploys personnel across the Baltic region, ensuring allied and partnered nations are able to quickly assemble and train anywhere they are called to do so. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

NATO forces await an attack from opposing forces during a training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia. U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. SbS16 rapidly deploys personnel across the Baltic region, ensuring allied and partnered nations are able to quickly assemble and train anywhere they are called to do so. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

An A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 107 th Fighter Squadron, flies over Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia, June 13, 2016.  U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010.  The U.S. presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

An A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 107 th Fighter Squadron, flies over Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia, June 13, 2016. U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. The U.S. presence in Europe and the relationships built over the past 70 years provide the U.S. strategic access critical to meet our NATO commitment to respond to threats against our allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

An AH-64A Apache flies over Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia June 13, 2016.  U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. Saber Strike rapidly deploys personnel across the Baltic region, ensuring allied and partnered nations are able to quickly assemble and train anywhere they are called to do so. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

An AH-64A Apache flies over Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia June 13, 2016. U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. Saber Strike rapidly deploys personnel across the Baltic region, ensuring allied and partnered nations are able to quickly assemble and train anywhere they are called to do so. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

NATO forces drive tanks across a simulated battlefield during a training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia.  U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. Saber Strike rapidly deploys personnel across the Baltic region, ensuring allied and partnered nations are able to quickly assemble and train anywhere they are called to do so. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

NATO forces drive tanks across a simulated battlefield during a training exercise June 13, 2016, at Adazi Military Training Base, Latvia. U.S. forces and NATO partners are in Europe participating in Saber Strike 16; a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. Saber Strike rapidly deploys personnel across the Baltic region, ensuring allied and partnered nations are able to quickly assemble and train anywhere they are called to do so. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

RIGA, Latvia --

U.S. Airmen joined more than 4,500 military members from 13 different NATO countries as they kicked off exercise Saber Strike 16 June 12, 2016.

Saber Strike is a long-standing, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative-training exercise, which has been conducted annually since 2010. This year’s exercise will focus on promoting interoperability with allies and regional partners and improving joint-operational capability in a variety of missions to prepare the participating nations and units for the future.

The exercise will feature the integration of close-air support with allied and partnered-nation ground-forces as well as testing of air deployment of forces and equipment. The exercise will be conducted through June 21. 

Capt. Douglas Mabe, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot and SbS16 C-130 mission commander explained the importance of training for real-world situations.

“Participating in Saber Strike allows the U.S. to accurately simulate supporting our NATO partners in a large-scale conflict spanning several countries,” Mabe said. “As tactical airlifters, we must always be prepared to execute any of our various mission sets and capabilities at a moment's notice, anywhere in the world at any time. This exercise will test our ability to successfully communicate across multiple branches of the military from various countries in order to achieve our mutual objectives and defeat the opposing force.”

This year’s exercise will include participation from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, USAREUR, the U.S. National Guard and Air National Guard and military forces from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Slovenia and United Kingdom.

 Although not a NATO exercise, SbS16 trains NATO allies and partners to be ready with a credible capability to assure, deter and respond quickly and effectively as a team to threats throughout the region.

“It’s important to understand we are going to train like we fight, and that means a total-force fight,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Loeben, Headquarters U.S. European Command, J-7 director of exercises and assessments. “We are getting a lot of U.S.-only joint-training objectives accomplished in this exercise, but at the same time we’re building the partnerships with our NATO allies. We build relationships, but we also assure our partners of the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance.”

By conducting training that focuses on a wide variety of scenarios, Saber Strike ensures that participating nations are trained and proficient in their ability to shoot, move, and communicate together.