Opportunity of a lifetime for Michigan Soldiers

Company D, 125th Infantry Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard is getting an “opportunity of a lifetime,” according to Commander, Capt. Aaron Bickerstaff. Over the next several days the unit will […]

Company D, 125th Infantry Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard is getting an “opportunity of a lifetime,” according to Commander, Capt. Aaron Bickerstaff. Over the next several days the unit will be participating in Saber Strike 18, in Latvia. The U.S. Army Europe military exercise runs June 3-15, 2018.

Exercise Saber Strike 18 is an annual, combined-joint exercise conducted at various locations throughout Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. About 18,000 participants from 19 different countries will be taking part. The combined training prepares allies and partners to respond to regional crises and meet their own security needs by improving the security of borders and countering threats.

Over the next couple days the unit will be focusing on troop leading procedures, mission preparation, and vehicle and weapon maintenance. They are also scheduled to convoy roughly 290 kilometers, June 8, 2018, to the final field training exercise (FTX) schedule for June 13.

The Big Rapids-based unit participated in a battle group movement to contact as part of the final integration prior to the FTX. One platoon faced some struggles dealing with obstacles and ambushes, and another platoon showed the advantage of using the Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS) by identifying the enemy and calling to the Norwegian Army to call for fire. The Norwegian Army then called the Marines who called to their mortar section for indirect fire (IDF) and were able to destroy the enemy. “This was an excellent example of a multinational/joint operation working correctly,” said Bickerstaff.

The unit also got to enjoy some time meeting their counterparts and beginning to get integrated. The 125th is working in conjunction with the 1st. Battalion, 6th Marines, the Norwegian Armed Forces, and the British Royal Marines. “They are enjoying the opportunity to work with different nations and with everyone in a generally close proximity within the camp we are operating on. Many Soldiers have taken it upon themselves to walk over and strike up conversations with both Norway and the UK, to get to know their counterparts,” said Sgt. 1st. Class Matthew Boyd, Senior Logistics NCO, with Company D.

This is the first year that Company D has participated in Exercise Saber Strike.  Photos of the exercise are  at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mi_ng/albums/7215766787142767

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