News | Nov. 19, 2020

Pa. National Guard, Lithuanian Army, partner for Warfighter exercise

By Staff Sgt. Zane Craig

More than a dozen Lithuanian Land Forces officers and noncommissioned officers integrated with the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division during Warfighter Exercise 21.2, held here during early November.
 

The goal of Army warfighter exercises is to simulate stressful scenarios so that unit staffs may identify areas of improvement. The two-week, computer-simulated command and control exercise was based on a fictitious scenario in which a U.S. Baltic ally was invaded by a hostile neighboring nation, causing a 28th Infantry Division-led task force to respond as part of a larger coalition force.

“For us, Lithuanians, this exercise allowed us to expand the scope of our knowledge by planning and integrating such combat support and combat service support units which the Lithuanian Armed Forces do not have or just started to develop,” said Lt. Col. Arunas Vaskevicius, civil-military relations chief of plans.

“Moreover, it allowed us to understand the internal and external processes taking place at the division-level headquarters in order to share information between the different functional areas and entities and drive the operation. Finally, it was a great opportunity for me to practice military English-language skills and the use of military terminology.”

This exercise was designed to validate interoperability through combined arms maneuver and build mutual readiness and subject matter expertise for both organizations and further the security cooperation between Lithuania and Pennsylvania.

“We benefited from their experience in truly understanding Lithuanian support and capabilities within diplomacy, information, military and economic considerations and I believe they benefited from seeing how a division headquarters is organized in the conduct of large scale operations through mission command as they design their Mission Command Element,” said Col. Matthew Cooper, 28th Infantry Division chief of staff.

Cooper added that the longstanding partnership and enduring relationships between the two forces enabled a high level of mutual support and interoperability that will only increase over time.

“Working with PAANG soldiers has always been a great pleasure for me,” said Vaskevicius. “They are always professional and dedicated to their duties. I also liked their always positive attitude and motivation.”

Participating soldiers met mission requirements while adhering to COVID mitigation standards. Soldiers at Fort Indiantown Gap wore masks, practiced social distancing protocols and had their temperature taken at the start of each day.

In 27 years of partnership, the Pennsylvania National Guard and Lithuanian Armed Forces have conducted hundreds of security cooperation engagements, co-deployments to Afghanistan, annual platoon/company exchanges, and numerous exercises such as Saber Strike, Iron Wolf, Flaming Sword, Thunder Storm, Dynamic Front, Allied Spirit, and Combined Resolve.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please contact Lt. Col. Keith Hickox (717) 861-6254, or e-mail ng.pa.paarng.list.pao@mail.mil