TAPA TRAINING AREA, Estonia — Fighting winds from the whirling helicopter blades overhead, U.S. Army Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade hit the ground running during a dry fire exercise alongside the British army’s Fire Support Company, 5th Battalion, “The Rifles,” 20th Armored Brigade on September 13, 2017 at Tapa Training Area, Estonia.
The 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment is currently participating in several exercises across Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia as a part of Bayonet Shield, a region-wide exercise taking place to display operational agility between the U.S. and its NATO allies and partners.
The exercise started with the troops of both armies making a descent from UH-60 Black Hawks provided by the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division to conduct a foray into the Estonian woods to engage targets while moving through several training scenarios.
The exercise consisted of breaching and clearing structures, delivering mortar fire on enemy positions, successfully evading chemical attacks, and tending to wounded soldiers before being evacuated from the area via helicopter. While this type of training may be normal for soldiers training for the battlefield, the new Baltic-area environment gave the troops a fresh perspective on being ready to fight. British army Lance Cpl. Robert Davis, the section second-in-command for the reconnaissance team, Fire Support Company, 5th Battalion, “The Rifles,” spoke on how the change of scenery was beneficial to all soldiers involved.
“Being in Estonia offers us opportunities to train in a dense wooded area that we’re not familiar with, as well as once again train with a foreign nation,” he said.
This is one of the first times during Bayonet Shield that British forces have been integrated into a cavalry company to support them directly on the battlefield. U.S. Army Capt. Erik Olsen, assistant planning officer for 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, detailed the importance of working closely with allies.
“Working with other nations is a big deal because it provides the type of training we shoot for. In case there’s ever a real world situation, we need to already know how we can work together in the field,” he said.
This event allowed U.S. and British soldiers to come together under a unified command to successfully achieve objectives in a new field environment. Davis shared his feelings on the opportunity to train under these conditions.
“It’s good to see how allies that we are very close with operate, because it gives us an understanding of the way they do things. During future operations we’ll have the ability to integrate our forces better and learn off each other faster,” he said.