Michigan Guard UAV platoon helps open Saber Strike

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ADAZI, Latvia — The Michigan National Guard Shadow UAV platoon participated with Soldiers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization member nations of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, United States, Great Britain, Finland, Canada, Norway and Denmark in the opening ceremonies for Exercise Saber Strike 14 at Adazi, Latvia on June 9, 2014.

The ceremony consisted of member nation forces in formation at the Adazi base parade field, flanked by armored personnel carriers. Latvian Ministry of Defense and NATO general officers gave speeches stressing the benefits of joint training and inter-operability of member nations taking part in Exercise Saber Strike 14.

After viewing a pass in review, Latvian Ministry of Defense and North Atlantic Treaty Organization member nation public affairs personnel toured the airfield occupied by by Michigan Army National Guard B Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Military Intelligence Company (MICO) Shadow Unmanned Aircraft Systems platoon.

The Latvian MOD and NATO PAO representatives were briefed on the capabilities of the RQ-7B Shadow aircraft and UAS platoon by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jimmy Huck and Capt. Mark Wurth. After the briefings, an RQ-7B Shadow aircraft was launched by the UAS platoon, allowing Latvian MOD and NATO PAO representatives to view, photograph and video record the launch.

“It is exciting to launch our first flight at Adazi on the opening day of Sabre Strike. Now we have flown the Shadow UAV from three locations in Latvia, the new airfield at Lielvarde, the abandoned airfield at Vainode and the improved gravel surface at Adazi. The range of conditons we have operated from demonstrates the capabilites of the Shadow UAV system,” said Capt. Mark Wurth.

Estonian Army PAO Maj.Vlo Isberg said, “It was fascinating to see the Shadow aircraft get launched for the first time from this airstrip in Adazi. The UAS briefers informed us how the aircraft is used for reconissance and its operational capabilities. This aircraft will enhance inter-NATO cooperation and coordination during Exercise Saber Strike 14 because it will relay imagery to all commanders of NATO ground units.”

After the launch, the Latvian MOD and NATO PAO representatives departed to visit other units participating in Saber Strike 14 training events.

Saber Strike is a U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)-directed, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM)-scheduled, U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR)-led theater security cooperation exercise that will be conducted at locations throughout the Baltic, including the Riga and the Adazi training areas in Latvia. The exercise will consist of a host nation-supported command post exercise (CPX), a brigade-level CPX/computer assisted exercise (CAX), and a field training exercise (FTX) with a situational training exercise (STX) component. The exercise will feature the integration of U.S. close support with partner nation ground forces and a demonstration of air deployment of forces and equipment. Saber Strike 14 will be conducted June 9-20, 2014.

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Downen, Michigan National Guard.

For more on Saber Strike, visit here.