Taking back the skies: Black Hawks, Apaches fly training mission in Lithuania

From left to right: Lithuanian Land Forces Master Sgt. Gintautas Mauricas, stands alongside U.S. Army Maj. Patrick Wilde, Staff Sgt. Carlos Cruz and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Warren. The three American Soldiers are assigned to Chock 4, a UH-60M Black Hawk flown by Soldiers assigned to B Company, 43rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division during exercise Saber Strike 2015 in Jonava, Lithuania, June 16, 2015. Saber Strike is a longstanding U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

From left to right: Lithuanian Land Forces Master Sgt. Gintautas Mauricas, stands alongside U.S. Army Maj. Patrick Wilde, Staff Sgt. Carlos Cruz and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Warren. The three American Soldiers are assigned to Chock 4, a UH-60M Black Hawk flown by Soldiers assigned to B Company, 43rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division during exercise Saber Strike 2015 in Jonava, Lithuania, June 14, 2015. AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter crews from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, participated in the exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

By Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

PABRADE, Lithuania (June 14, 2015) – As multinational land forces mass in the forests and open plains of Lithuania for exercise Saber Strike 2015, their strength on the ground is greater than ever. In the skies over Pabrade today, though, air power defined multinational partnerships.

In the air above the training grounds at the Gen. Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area here June 14, two AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopters operated by A Company, 2nd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, guarded a German reconnaissance platoon on the ground, awaiting pickup of simulated wounded by five UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters flown by B Company, 43rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

As the Black Hawks touched down in a swirl of yellow sand and debris kicked up by the spinning rotors of the helicopters, crew chief Staff Sgt. Carlos Cruz slid the side door back on his Black Hawk, Chock 4, and, with hand and arm signals, gave the German medic the OK to come out into the open with her wounded soldiers.

“Working with other units, especially multinational ones, is hard sometimes,” said Cruz, a native of Mangilao, Guam. “The language barrier slows things down sometimes, but we got there in the end. Everyone speaks ‘army.'”

As soon as the German medic had her patients secured in the aircraft, pilot Maj. Patrick Wilde pulled up on the elevator arm and Chock 4 lifted into the air. Patrick, the 43rd’s executive officer and detachment officer in charge for Saber Strike 2015, said assets like his in the air, ready to go at a moments notice, are key to a sustainable partnership with between allied forces.

“Being able to bring our knowledge and expertise to our partners and allies is a huge step in continuing interoperability in the region,” said Wilson, a native of Brevard, North Carolina. “We’re learning to work together as one team, and bring the fight as a much larger and more competent force.”

The Saber Strike exercise program is an ongoing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training effort focused on Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. This year includes participation from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Navy forces in Europe, U.S. Marine Forces Europe and Africa, the U.S. Army and Air National Guard, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners. All activities feature joint, multinational training among the participating nations.

 

Staff Sgt. Carlos Cruz, left, crew chief of Chock 4, a UH-60M Black Hawk flown by Soldiers assigned to B Company, 43rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, watches as a German army reconnaissance platoon evacuates a casualty during a joint training exercise at the Gen. Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area in Pabrade, Lithuania, June 14, 2015, as part of exercise Saber Strike 2015. Saber Strike is a longstanding U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Staff Sgt. Carlos Cruz, left, crew chief of Chock 4, a UH-60M Black Hawk flown by Soldiers assigned to B Company, 43rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, watches as a German army reconnaissance platoon evacuates a casualty during a joint training exercise at the Gen. Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area in Pabrade, Lithuania, June 14, 2015, as part of exercise Saber Strike 2015. AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter crews from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, participated in the exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

 

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