eFP Battle Group Latvia Update: Slow Jogs and Bike Bandits
In the cold month of February, Task Force WAR PIGS as the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group (BG) capitalizes on each day, forging a multinational war machine. February for the eFP BG included two notable BG-level exercises, and several Company training events as each sub-unit sought to master its own standard operating procedures (SOP). The BG headquarters (HQ) staff also built their team’s integration and effectiveness through rehearsals, endless hours of staff work, and commiserating over endless hours of staff work.
STEELE REFORGER kicked off the month of integration training. A stands-based exercise, it allowed the WAR PIGS to get to know one another’s capabilities, understand the BG’s SOPs, and practice critical warfighting activities. This was immediately followed by Company-level exercises MUSTANG SCHOOL, STEELE CHIMO and FIRES PRIME. These week-long integration activities allowed the BG enablers to share best practices between the nine nations that make up the NATO eFP BG LATVIA – eleven nations if you count our British and Australian exchange personnel, and twelve nations if you count our Lieutenant Craig “Tiffy” Lochrie, our resident Scot whom we successfully poached from the British Army.
During MUSTANG SCHOOL Lieutenant Leon “BROCON” Van Heerden showed his Rhodesian roots while teaching harbour defensive tasks, and with a level of “extreme ownership” Jocko would be proud of, he somehow made Delivery Point classes interesting. FIRES PRIME provided an excellent opportunity for BG fires to integrate with multiple nations, all calling in fire from one another’s guns and mortars. Lieutenant-Colonel Eric “WAR PIG” Angell even had the opportunity to fire a few 155mm M777 rounds, which despite their diameter were remarkably less impressive than 120mm tank rounds.
As a sequel to my ill-fated challenging of Captain Josh “Usain” Horlings to a 100m dash, (my hamstring is healing well, thanks for your concern), the WAR PIGS continued to challenge each other in (mostly) friendly competition during a BG Sports Day. Nine nations faced off in basketball, soccer (or should it be football), ping pong, and a bike-a-thon. BG warrior spirit was on full display as competition got fierce, especially on the soccer pitch. As a win for multinational-integration, the basketball court saw the triumph of a team made up of two Canadians, two Italians and two Poles. Although verbal communication was difficult, the question remains if Captain Josh “The Weak Twin” Horlings had an advantage through telepathic communication with his Italian doppelganger.
Throughout the month, the BG HQ worked endless hours completing a table top exercise (TTX) and preparing for upcoming rehearsals. This work ethic was exemplified by BG Chief of Staff, Major James “Moonbeam” Anderson, and BG S5, Major Gord “Larry Bird” Elliott, who are rarely seen outside their offices. Despite long hours, morale remains high as each soldier looks forward to Saturday parades and physical training demonstrations by Sergeant Derrick “High-Knees” Popoff. Weekly awards for the Defender of the Week also raise morale, by recognizing brave and outstanding soldiers who defuse UXOs, clear jammed mortars or, find stolen bikes.
February finished off with the BG’s first major rehearsal during STEELE QUENCH. Allowing the BG to stretch its legs, these days of training taught some very valuable lessons at all levels, and provided an amazing opportunity for each sub-unit to demonstrate its capabilities. Sergeant-Major Steve “Part ma soul’s gone da Jesus” Churchill mastered moving what is effectively a Service Battalion into hides, Captain Ryan “Quad-Seven” O’Sullivan learned that communications requires at least twenty levels of contingency plans, and Captain Shaun “Photo Radar” Rogozinski once again avoided providing the S5 with any support, finding more fun ‘good-go’ things to do instead. With all processes refined, the BG now waits for its big test, a NATO supported validation event known as CRYSTAL ARROW.