Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Behlin, Army News Service
RUKLA, Lithuania – Soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment provided air support for Exercise Baltic Piranha at Gaiziunai Training Area in Rukla, Lithuania, Oct. 22, 2015.
The exercise aimed to train the rapid response force of the Belgian Armed Forces, enabling them to hone conduct of stability operations and other joint actions.
The Soldiers provided a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter and crew for the joint exercise, which included members of the Belgian Armed Forces, Lithuanian Grand Duchess Birute Uhlan Battalion and Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanized Infantry Battalion.
“Overall, everything went well,” said Maj. Patrick Wilde, the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment executive officer and UH-60M pilot. “The Belgian Armed Forces are very good at incorporating aviation assets into their overall plan and scheme of what they want to do.”
“Working with the other NATO nations as well has been a very good experience,” Wilde continued.
Wilde and his crew were responsible for inserting a Belgian reconnaissance team into the objective area at Gaiziunai Training Area and evacuating a casualty later in the exercise.
Those involved were very appreciative of the time spent with their NATO counterparts and saw this exercise as a very valuable experience.
“It’s really awesome and eye opening,” said Capt. Catherine Kinsel, the commander of company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment and UH-60M pilot. “When we work with our NATO partners, they’re offering their procedures and we are looking at operations through a NATO lens.”
Kinsel continued, “We have a lot to offer them with regards to training, but we can learn so much from them.”
The 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment is the current rotational aviation force attached to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, which is committed to building strong relationships with its NATO allies in Europe.
Exercise Baltic Piranha is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, providing U.S. and allied forces the opportunity to work and train together and improves their ability to operate as a combined force; that capability is essential to the security and strength of Europe.