«Summer Shield» shows NATO's military might

A total of 1,415 allied soldiers from six countries partook in NATO's Summer Shield exercise at the Ādaži military base outside Rīga, held from April 17 to April 29. 

Appearing at the base Thursday was Latvia's Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis who said he hopes that "a decision will be made on increasing allied presence in the Baltics" at the NATO Warsaw summit on July 8 and 9.

He reminded the press about expansion plans at Ādaži and elsewhere to accommodate to Latvia's growing army and potentially more allied exercises and troops.

The exercises are said to improve a range of skills, particularly in the areas of combat support and integration at brigade and battalion level. Overseen by Latvian officers, NATO troops simulated a fight for the strategically important bridges of the Gauja river.

Allied soldiers were present from Lithuania, Germany, Canada, Latvia, and the United States, with Germany notably featuring an anti-chemical WMD unit. Also attending were observers from Finland.

The troops manned helicopters, howitzers, armored fighting vehicles and more, with explosions galore at the culmination of Summer Shield XIII.

LSM mingled with US artillerymen present at the exercises. Private First Class Martinez described the M777 howitzer to LSM.

The M777 howitzer

While Staff sergeant Smouse elaborated on the daily agenda during the exercises.

Artillerymen at work

He also shared his thoughts over being located close to a threatening Russia. 

Does the proximity of Russia worry US soldiers?

Following Russia's interventions in Ukraine, more military exercises have been happening in Latvia with the country pressing for increased allied presence.

"Summer Shield" however has taken place in the country since 2004. Originally it was a battalion-level exercise and its main task was to prepare units for participation in a coalition forces operation in Iraq, but it has since grown and become more diverse.

Latvia is planning to up its professional military to 6,000 troops by 2018 and increase the number of its volunteer National Guard.

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