A ceremony at Adazi military base just outside Riga got the 14th Summer Shield exercises under way, with 1,200 troops from Latvia, the U.S., Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia, the U.K. and Sweden taking part on the ranges around Adazi.
Summer Shield involves participants working combat support skills including artillery support, air defense, reconnaissance, defense against weapons of mass destruction, combat support by military engineers and anti-tank capabilities, alongside joint fire observers, air support controllers, medics and transportation units.
Though listed on NATO's training calendar, Summer Shield is also open to non-NATO members. This year that includes Sweden, while Finland is a previous participant.
Consequently there will be increased security in the area to ensure no-one wanders into the line of fire, and increased activity in the air too as ground and air-forces co-ordinate their actions.
US forces freshly arrived in Latvia made sure they were in shape for Summer Shield by conducting warm-up exercises last week after transforming the land around Adazi to change it from a 'maneuver area' into a 'gunnery range' capable of hosting live-fire tank drills.
Summer Shield XIV runs until April 29.
Last year's exercise involved slightly more participants, and you can read a review of it from a US perspective HERE.