Canadian soldiers complete NATO Exercise IRON SWORD

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Article / December 2, 2016

By: Captain L.R. Benak, Public Affairs Officer, Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force

From November 20 to December 2, 2016, approximately 130 Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force (LTF) troops trained alongside members from 10 NATO nations during Exercise IRON SWORD.

The participating NATO countries included Canada, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Canadian participation in the exercise took place in the General Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area, in Pabradé, Lithuania.

 “Exercise IRON SWORD was an excellent setting to train together with a multinational contingent,” said 1 Platoon Commander, Lt Stanley Bennett. “It provided an ideal opportunity to share and gain tactical and technical knowledge with units from other NATO countries.”

Upon arrival, the LTF integrated into the U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat (Airborne). They then joined their respective multinational sub-units for the start of the field training exercise: the infantry platoons merged into a Lithuanian rifle company; the reconnaissance section and snipers worked with a Luxembourg reconnaissance platoon; combat engineers integrated with the American, Lithuanian, and British combat engineers; and the Forward Observation Officer detachment operated with a German artillery unit.

As the rain turned to snow, a dramatic warlike atmosphere blanketed the bleak training area, almost as if NATO organizers had – not for the first time on this rotation – deliberately ordered harsh weather conditions to kick off yet another training exercise. Unfazed, the Canadian troops systematically executed offensive, defensive, and resupply missions throughout the simulated combat zone. As a result, they succeeded in the overarching goal of advancing their interoperability skills with the other NATO nations.

On the final day of training, the Land Task Force participated in a combat capabilities demonstration for the exercise’s Distinguished Visitor Day. The public viewing showcased Canadians fighting alongside NATO allies to clear a simulated enemy urban complex in the training area.  The international VIPs, including the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, then got to participate in an interactive presentation of selected military equipment employed during the exercise.

“The successful completion of Exercise IRON SWORD once again validated the hard work put in by the LTF soldiers since the beginning of the rotation.” said Officer Commanding Alpha Company, Major Stephen Wyatt.  “This exercise also clearly demonstrated the LTF’s continued commitment to providing highly-skilled assets when integrating into NATO exercises such as IRON SWORD.”

Exercise IRON SWORD is a Lithuanian-led exercise designed to promote regional stability and security, strengthen partnership capacity, and foster trust while improving joint training between Lithuania, Canada and other NATO member nations.

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