ADAZI, Latvia—Under the fluttering flags of five different nations, soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, based in Connellsville, stood in formation at the opening ceremonies for Exercise Saber Strike 2013 here June 3.
The guardsmen are part of approximately 2,000 soldiers from 14 countries involved in Saber Strike 2013. The event is a two-week U.S. Army Europe-led multinational exercise hosted by the nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In addition to forces from the three Baltic States and U.S. personnel, British soldiers are also participating in field exercises at Latvia’s Adazi Training Area.
Sgt. Robert Frayvolt, a Latrobe resident, has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. As a team leader, he ensures that his soldiers, many of whom have never been in combat, understand their jobs on the battlefield while participating in the various training exercises.
During his last deployment, Frayvolt helped train Afghan firefighters to respond to car wrecks and other emergencies. In his civilian life, Frayvolt is a volunteer firefighter at Station 41 in Derry.
“I’ve worked with civil and military members from other countries in the past,” said Frayvolt. “These real-world experiences should come into play during Saber Strike. After all, it’s about working together as a team.”
During Saber Strike 2013, Frayvolt’s platoon will be partnered with a Lithuanian infantry company. After jointly participating in various situational exercises, the multinational unit will conduct several days of continuous operations against an opposing force comprised of Latvian infantrymen augmented with an element of U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets.
“In the past, we’ve had Pennsylvanians deploy to Afghanistan with the Lithuanian Army,” said platoon leader 2nd Lt. Joseph Dillon. “But in Saber Strike, we won’t be operating in the mountains or the desert like we have in recent real-world conflicts. The terrain here may not be the same as Iraq or Afghanistan, but basic infantry tactics never change. As infantrymen, we’re anxious to get out in the Latvian forests, marshes and bogs and work with our multinational counterparts.”
Through the National Guard State Partnership Program, the Pennsylvanian National Guard is paired with the Baltic nation of Lithuania. This year’s exercise marks 20 years of cooperative military training between Pennsylvania and Lithuania, including several deployments together in Afghanistan and more than 500 cooperative training events.