Tag: Latvia

Operational capability of National Armed Forces has reached high level thanks to cooperation with US – chief of defense

Latvian soldiers during a training exercise. They carry the Heckler & Koch G36 Assault Rifle.

Thanks to cooperation with the US, special operational capability of the Latvian National Armed Forces has reached a very high quality, said Latvia’s Chief of Defense Leonids Kalnins during his meeting with commander of the United States Army Special Operations Command in Europe Kenneth Tovo.

The Latvian Defense Ministry reported that the officials discussed regional security issues, US support to Latvia under the Atlantic Resolve operation, and Latvian-US cooperation in military exercises.

“Special operational capability of the Latvian National Armed Forces has reached a very high quality, and it ha been done largely thanks to the excellent cooperation with the US.

Today’s challenges make us intensity development of special capabilities and deepen cooperation with the US. Highly qualified US specialists with huge experience in crisis regions offer significant contribution to the growth of the Latvian army.

Also, Latvian troops share their experience, therefore there are winners on both sides,” said Kalnins.
Tovo underscored that Latvia is a loyal NATO member state and a significant US ally. “Our troops shoulder by shoulder served in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Permanent presence of the US special troops in Latvia and the Baltic states since 2014 is a proof of our resolution to deter any aggression against our allies and the Alliance,” he said.


Chief of defense urges against spreading false information about allied forces in Latvia

Latvian troops on exercise, Hohenfels, Germany (Photo by Sgt. Lee Elder, 118th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Careless spreading of unverified information can do certain harm to Latvia’s interests, the Latvian Chief of Defense, Lieutenant General Leonids Kalnins, said in an interview with Latvian Television this morning.

Kalnins denied reports, which have been spreading on social networks, that Latvia is paying for allied forces’ activities in the country, including for NATO soldiers’ taxi rides. The Latvian chief of defense underlined that all the living costs, including food, water, and the use of sports facilities, are paid for the allies themselves. Kalnins also called on people to realize that by spending their money in Latvia, the NATO soldiers are fueling the economy.

The chief of defense urged people not to believe rumors and to visit the Adazi military base to get first-hand information about the allied troops’ activities. “This will prevent such misunderstandings,” he said.
Kalnins said that sometimes false information about the allies is spread on purpose, but that various reckless comments can also be used against Latvia as they reach Russian television channels, websites and other media.

“By indiscriminately spreading such information we do certain harm to our country,” Kalnins said.


More than 3,500 troops to take part in Silver Arrow 2017 international military drill

Canadian troops compare equipment with Latvian, UK and Danish NATO Allies during Exercise SILVERARROW in Latvia 2016

RIGA, Oct 13 (LETA)

More than 3,500 troops will participate in Silver Arrow 2017 international military drill held in Latvia – Adazi, Ape, Gulbene and Aluksne regions – on October 16- 29, the Latvian Defense Ministry reported.

Countries participating in the drill include Albania, the US, Estonia, Italy, Canada, Latvia, the UK, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Germany. Also about 200 home guards and 30 reserve troops will participate in the exercise.

The goal of the drill is to improve cooperation of the National Armed Forces with the allies, train the ability of units to plan and conduct defense operations, the ministry said.

Alongside, National Armed Forces mobilization drills and reserve troops exercise will be held.

The ministry reminded that initially Silver Arrow was a national military exercise, but since 2014 it has growing into an international exercise with cooperation of allies and partners.


Zapad 2017: what you need to know about Belarus and Russia’s military exercises

Zapad 2017: what you need to know about Belarus and Russia’s military exercises

Russia and Belarus kick off Zapah 2017: what you need to know

Russia and Belarus’ Zapad military exercises have provoked concern among Nato members and allies in eastern Europe.

“We are going to be watching very closely the course of these exercises,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Poland last month.

Here’s what you need to know

The numbers

Scheduled to last between September 14 and 20 in Belarus and eastern Russia the drills officially include 12,700 troops, with a little under half coming from Russia and the rest being Belarussian military. However, European sources have suggested up to 100 000 personnel could be involved, a figure denied by Moscow.

According to figures announced by Russia’s Defence Ministry, the drills will involve around 70 airplanes and helicopters, 10 combat ships, along with 680 units of combat equipment, including 250 tanks and 200 machine guns, multiple launch rocket systems and other heavy weaponry.

The scenario

The Russian Defence Ministry has always insisted that the purpose of the drills is purely defensive

The drills will take place on the territory of three ranges in Leningrad, Pskov and Kaliningrad in Russian and six ranges in Belarus. The name “Zapad” (which translates as “west”) is said to refer to the western part of Russia and Belarus and not the states of the European Union, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. He also called on western media not to politicise the exercise and not to misinterpret its objectives.

“Some people come to a conclusion, the exercise “Zapad 2017” aims to “set the stage for invasion” and “occupation” of Lithuania, Poland and the Ukraine. None of this surprising theories has anything to do with the reality,” — Fomin announced.

According to the premise of the drills, Belarus gets attacked by three imaginary enemy states: Veyshnoria, Vesbaria and Lubenia. Lubenia is situated on the territory of western Belarus, while Veisbaria and Lubenia — are in territory belonging to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The aim of the drills is to test the ability of joint forces of Russia and Belarus to hold off the enemy’s attack and practice cooperation between the military administration of the two countries.

Nato concerns

The governments of states sharing borders with Russia have expressed fears that the drills will be used for military provocation.

The main concern is that Russian may use the exercise to relocate a large number of military personnel to Belarus. The head of staff of the Ukrainian Army, Victor Muzhenko, has suggested that Russia could then launch an assault on its neighbours on the grounds of “massive provocations” concerning “the abuse of rights and threats to the safety of Russian-speaking minority”.

Baltic states have similar concerns, even though the idea of an invasion is further off.

Latvia sent a task force to Belarus to observe the drills, justifying the move by citing the risk of incursions into its airspace: The minister for foreign affairs Edgars Rinkevics has indicated it is possible foreign military aircraft could overfly neighbouring territory. At the same time, he played down the prospect of military invasion — especially due to an enhanced Nato presence in the region.

Meanwhile, Latvia is also undertaking some additional security measures. Authorities have even called on fans of strike ball — a military game, where participants dress in camouflage and carry fake weapons — to give up on their hobby for a while, to avoid causing panic among populations in border regions.

The Lithuanian authorities share the position of Latvia. “We are prepared better, than during the “Zapad 2009” and “Zapad 2013” exercises, the president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite declared on September, 14 in an interview for LRT radio station. “More defensive units and measures are now located on our territory”.

By Maria Epifanova


Latvia showcases Host Nation Support during NATO exercise

Fire fighting services during a simulated emergency – One facet of Host Nation Support provided by Latvia during exercise Ramstein Dust-II 17. Photo by Kevin Lemée

LIELVARDE, Latvia – At the end of NATO’s deployment exercise Ramstein Dust-II 2017 to Lievarde, Latvia, it is time to look at the support provided by Host Nation Latvia.

The exercise director, German Air Force Colonel Klaus Nolte, commended the support the Latvian Air Force provided to his team: “We really appreciate the tremendous assistance we received over the last four weeks. The Latvian colleagues took good care of us so we could focus on our mission. They were key to a most successful exercise demonstrating Alliance cohesion and interoperability.”

“This base is perfectly positioned for our deployment exercise as it greatly facilitates integration into the Baltic Air Surveillance and Control Network,” added the Colonel, whose unit deployed here already in the fall of 2015. “Yet, our temporary relocation to here still needed a thorough planning process over at least 18 months with fine-tuning over the last six months,” he added.

Host Nation Support during Ramstein Dust-II 2017 was key to receiving the team of NATO’s deployable air surveillance and control unit at Lielvarde. Preparations started in May when the requirements were established and coordinated.

The support Latvia provided to the exercise included basically all real-life services such as accommodation, dining facility, and medical assistance as well as technical support such as engineering, security, communications connectivity, cargo handling, customs coordination and transportation.

“It has been a pleasure working with and for the international team. Participation in Ramstein Dust-II 2017 provided extra training opportunities for our Fighter Controllers and Data Link Operators. The exercise also contributed to enhancing interoperability of different air surveillance systems to ensure joint air surveillance and control,” said Major Eriks Karklis, Deputy Commander of the Air Surveillance Squadron of the Latvian Air Force.

At the end of September, the NATO specialists started tearing down their compound – again with Host Nation Latvia as a facilitator. After the departure of the exercise participants, Latvia’s Air Base will return to normal operations; however, Host Nation Support continues for the ongoing and future deployments of Allies to Lielvarde.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office.


U.S., NATO Allies Showcase Fighting Capabilities at Bayonet Shield Exercise

ADAZI TRAINING AREA, Latvia, Oct. 3, 2017 — As cool winds blew across the forested Baltic terrain, U.S. soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, showed no signs of stopping as they began a multiday combined arms live-fire exercise with Spanish and Polish allies at Adazi Training Area, Latvia, Oct. 1. 

The exercise is a part of Bayonet Shield, a regional exercise taking place in the Baltics to build readiness between the U.S. and its NATO Allies and partners, including the enhanced forward presence battle groups.

Army Staff Sgt. Cody Francis, platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Company C, 1-91 Cavalry Regiment, highlighted the importance of the American presence in the region.

Working With NATO Allies, Partners

“We’re here in Latvia to train on becoming a stronger fighting force while working alongside our NATO allies, like the Spanish,” he said.

The first day of training entailed a dismounted exercise alongside Spanish troops to engage multiple targets and apply breach and clear obstacle tactics at an enclosed training compound on the range. The Spanish were able to destroy a barbed wire fence with their Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System, which paved the way for the 1-91 regiment to breach and clear multiple buildings.

Francis noted what this sort of training conveys across NATO.

“This training shows that we’re here to support and defend our allies, and in turn they’re here to do the same for us,” he said.

The second day consisted of a simulated vehicle assault on similar targets with the cavalry regiment maneuvering alongside their Spanish and Polish counterparts. U.S. and Spanish forces operated Humvees and M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, respectively. The Poles brought in their PT-91 battle tanks to provide heavier firepower.

PT-91 Twardy Main Battle Tank, Poland

These movements were supported by Canadian army artillery. Canadian army Maj. Keith Woodill, battery commander of Z Battery, 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, described what he had seen from his troops.

“There have been some challenges, but this training has been very beneficial to me and my soldiers. This new terrain — along with new obstacles — are great to confirm our training,” he said.

The second day also saw a visit from Paul Poletes, deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy in Latvia, along with local Latvian media to witness the combined training of these forces.

Allied training like this showcases NATO forces’ ability to work together cohesively as well as demonstrating the will of allies to come together. Woodill commented on the importance of such combined efforts during the training.

“To train with our allies is absolutely crucial, and to be able to practice these tasks in a training scenario only proves that we can work together proficiently,” he said.


UK-led international exercise Joint Warrior begins

Albion-class amphibious transport dock (L-15) HMS Bulwark

Warships taking part in the UK-hosted multinational drill Joint Warrior got underway on October 1 for a fortnight of exercises off the coast of Scotland.

This is the second time this year the biannual drill is being held.

The first one took place in March and featured or incorporated Information Warrior, an event aimed at demonstrating and developing information warfare.

The fall edition of the drill will focus on inter-operability development and standard evolutions.

Joint Warrior is designed and led by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) in the United Kingdom.

35 ships and a number of aircraft from 14 nations are set to take part in the drill.

The Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS De Ruyter F804, will be taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior

The Exercise will feature:

  • Thirty-five naval units from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US, supported by 11 rotary wing aircraft.
  • RAF Lossiemouth and HMS Gannet in Prestwick hosting international aircraft from Canada, France, Norway, the UK and US.
  • Cape Wrath Weapons Range in the North of Scotland being used for joint fires activity.

Exercise Joint Warrior will also incorporate elements of another major exercise, the ballistic missile defence drill Formidable Shield, running from September 21 to October 18.


Belgian fighters to conduct low-altitude flights in Estonia

A Belgian Air Component (Luchtcomponent) General Dynamics (Lockheed-Martin) F-16AM Fighting Falcon

TALLINN, Oct 02, BNS – Belgian F-16 fighter jets stationed at the Amari air base in northwestern Estonia as part of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission will perform training flights in Estonian airspace from Monday to Friday.

The aircraft are to fly over Estonia in areas of low-altitude flying, at an altitude of at least 152 meters and preferably away from populated areas, spokespeople for the Estonian defense forces told BNS.

NATO member states allocate specific areas of their air space for the training and exercises of the air force, including low-altitude flights. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also allocated specific regions of their air space for low-altitude flying. The flights are performed in agreement with the Estonian Civil Aviation Administration and Estonian Air Navigation Services.

By a decision of the North Atlantic Council, the air forces of NATO member states have been taking turns to perform the air policing mission in the air space of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since March 2004, when the three Baltic countries joined the NATO.

The Baltic air policing mission is part of the NATO Smart Defense concept, the aim of which is to save the resources of the member states of the alliance by contributing together to different capabilities.

A contingent of the Belgian Air Force took over the Baltic air policing duties performed out of Amari, Estonia on Sept. 5. At present the Baltic air policing mission is performed by U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets deployed to Siauliai, Lithuania, and Belgian F-16s at Amari, Estonia.


Latvia receives first self-propelled howitzers from Austria

Austrian M-109 155mm self-propelled howitzers

RIGA, Oct 2 (LETA) – Austria has delivered the first self-propelled howitzers that the National Armed Forces have purchased.

The howitzers have been delivered by ferry to Liepaja port, the National Armed Forces said in their posts on social networks.

As reported, Austria planned to deliver M109 series self-propelled artillery systems to Latvia. The price of a unit is dependent on their modification – between EUR 60,000 to 140,000.

Austria is expected to deliver 47 units to Latvia.

The howitzers were modernized between 2003 and 2007, and the first delivery was expected in the autumn. This is a significant increase in fire-power for the Latvian armed forces.

The Defence Ministry informs that the howitzer project is one of the most important military equipment projects with the aim of strengthening the Latvian armed forces.



Polish Ministry discloses details of Dragon 17 exercises

Warsaw: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland has published details of Exercise Dragon 17 and the countries that are taking part from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as their allies from Georgia and Ukraine.

“The training and combat readiness drills of Dragon-17 are proceeding well. Dragon-17 is being attended by 17,000 soldiers from nine NATO countries, as well as Georgia and Ukraine, “the ministry said.

In addition, according to information from the Polish Foreign Ministry, 3,500 units of equipment are involved in the exercise. The exercise is to be held in Poland from 20 to 29 September.

Among the NATO countries taking part in Dragon 17 are Poland, USA, Germany, Great Britain, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Italy, Bulgaria, as well as their allies from Georgia and Ukraine.



Media get first-hand impression of NATO air controllers at Lielvarde

F-15C Eagles based at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania as part of NATOs Baltic Air Policing Mission

LIELVARDE, Latvia – Media representatives from Latvian TV stations and Baltic news services visited the NATO deployment exercise Ramstein Dust-II 2017 on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, for an update.

The exercise director, German Air Force Colonel Klaus Nolte, welcomed several media representatives at Lielvarde Air Base to explain the role and mission of his international exercise team. NATO’s deployable air surveillance and control unit, located in its home garrison at Poggio Renatico, Italy, moved to the Latvian air base at the end of August and integrated into the Baltic Air Surveillance and Control Network as an additional asset.

“This second deployment of my team to Lielvarde after 2015 has been a major success so far,” said Colonel Nolte to the media. “I am proud of my specialists who demonstrated and honed their excellent skills. Deployment and readiness exercise are essential to verify we are operational and ready whenever and wherever needed.”

During a day for Latvian media at exercise Ramstein Dust-II 17, two US Air Force F-15 were controlled by exercise participants as they performed a flyby at Lielvarde Air Base. Photo by Rien Torn

According to the Colonel all elements of the deployable NATO air surveillance and control unit acted as one. “Whether they operate the control screens, ensure communications and connections are working, keep the power up and running, prepare the containers for deployment and redeployment – each and every one of them provides a key contribution to demonstrating NATO is capable and credible in its commitment especially here in the Baltic region,” Colonel Nolte added.

The highlight for the media was the flyby of two United States Air Force F-15 fighter jets from NATO’s Baltic Air Policing at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania. Their missions were also controlled by the deployed NATO unit during the last three weeks ensuring they operate safely in support of other Allied forces operating in the region.

More pictures from the event can be found here.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office.