May we please never leave Latvia
As May draws to a close the members of enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Latvia have started to switch gears and look forward to some much needed rest and relaxation, as they start to look forward to redeployment. May however was a very busy month for the members of the Battle Group. It was determined by the Signals Officer, Capt Ryan “Squiggles” O’Sullivan, that the BG still had no idea how to talk to each other…..so he decided that we should deploy all BG Command Posts for STEELE HAMMER. The thrill of a four-day Command Post Exercise was surely the highlight of the tour for many Command Post personnel, with the BG S1, Capt Tim “Deputy Junior Duty Officer” McHugh calling it “the most valuable training opportunity in the history of warfare.”
This was quickly followed up with STEELE CRESCENDO the following week, a live fire small arms concentration that was designed to enhance interoperability and fundamental soldier skills within the BG. After this fantastic training, we deployed the Battle Group for one final Level 6 exercise in the Adazi training area.
Due to the untimely demise of the Officer Commanding and Company Sergeant Major from MUSTANG Coy (who went down in a blaze of blank-round glory), Captain Bryce Simpson and Warrant Officer Stew McLoughlin had to take over Combat Service Support for the Battle Group, right ahead of a move of the multinational echelon. They promptly decided to “go for orders” leaving the Maintenance Officer in charge as Acting 2IC, and Sergeant Ryan “I’m in the Airforce” Yorke as the acting CSM. Concurrently to this, the Transport Officer abandoned them to go do one final delivery of “vital” stores to the BG. Sergeant Yorke utilized all of his Mobility Support Equipment (MSE) training, and successfully moved a 100 vehicle Company into a new position with only one or two stuck vehicles. STEELE ANVIL was a resounding success, and concluded with a note of melancholy as everyone realized that the BG would not get another opportunity to train on a Level 6 context again.
It was now finally time for MUSTANG Company to get a week to do their own training. Not wanting to waste any time, Captain Bryce “I used to be a JTAC” Simpson and Lieutenant Leon “I’m not old” van Heerden came up with MUSTANG DAWN. It was quickly decided that it was time for Captain Mitch “How do you do a clearance patrol” Brown to become a soldier, learn how to take orders in short hand, and lead troops. So, he was selected to lead the hand-picked platoon of supporters from across the Battle Group and National Support Element. They deployed for a four-day dismounted platoon exercise, living in a patrol base, conducting Recce Patrols, Section attacks, Platoon attacks, Clearance Patrols (only after much enemy probing), and by the end of it were a smoothly oiled administrative killing machine. They were even able to defend their patrol base from a platoon attack of BMP’s, which our brothers from Slovakia were only too happy to provide us. MUSTANG DAWN was an excellent opportunity for all within the Company to demonstrate our mantra of “Soldiers First.” Afterward, MUSTANG re-deployed for a Company BBQ and some much needed rest and relaxation.
After this it was time for the Latvian Coin Ceremony, in which a coins were presented to all members of eFP Latvia by the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade Commander, in gratitude for their dedication to the defence of Latvia and NATO.
The end of the month was now fast approaching and everyone got ready to either spectate or participate in Ex BALTIC WARRIOR, a 37 km test of endurance and canoeing. The race day arrived with outstanding weather and the event was a resounding success. Captain Josh “Battle Aide” Horlings and Captain Tim “I just want the T-Shirt” McHugh even crossed the finish line with a smile on their faces! All in all, May was another busy month on the Eastern front.