Photos: «Sword-2016» exercises with the US' Sky Soldiers

The Zobens-2016 (Sword-2016) military exercises concluded recently in Latgale were the largest maneuvers ever for Latvia's National Guard. The CVR(T) armored vehicles recently bought from the UK also took part in the exercise, observed by Latvia's Defense Minister and foreign guests, reported Latvian Radio 4 Thursday.

About a thousand people took part in the exercises, including troops from Lithuania and the US.

Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis observed the exercises, praising the good coordination between different countries and state institutions.

"I'm glad that our allies too were involved in the exercises — our Lithuanian colleagues, [Latvia's] State Police and the Border Guard. 

Coordination of efforts during exercises is very important, and I'm very glad that we were able to organize all the institutions," said Bergmanis.

Troops from the United States' 173rd Airborne Brigade - known as the 'Sky Soldiers' - participated in the Zobens-2016 exercises as well. Maj. Brian Miletech said that US troops were very pleased, together with their Latvian colleagues from the 2nd District, to take part in the exercises and improve cooperation in the framework of a defense operation.

The defenders strove to slow down and wear out the advancing opponents. Troops trained for different combat situations, including deterrence, surrounding, night combat, and cutting off pockets that have struck through.

Lt. Col. Ervīns Kopeika of the 2nd Region forces of the National Guard said that the exercises aimed to strengthen management and cooperation.

"We learned a lot from our mistakes [and] from our allies - the Lithuanians, the Border Guard, the Americans. I think that we'll have to analyse conclusions from the results of the exercises, to study reports over what went well and what didn't," he said.

"But what's most important is attaining a high level of professionalism," said Lt. Col. Kopeika.

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