Lithuanian Land Forces, U.S. infantry and aviation train to fight
Exercise Uhlan Fury ended in Lithuania with a jump from UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters above the General Silvestras Zlikaliskas Training Area.
U.S. Army’s Dog Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 4th Infantry Division, and Lithuanian Land Forces (LLF) soldiers, assigned to 2nd Coy, Grand Duchess Birut Uhlan Battalion (BUB), have been training for two weeks during the bilateral training exercise.
Along with pilots and flight crews from B Company, 43rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, the service members have spent the previous two days executing what they have learned as a team.
Stationed in Vicenza, Italy, Dog Company deployed to Lithuania in June with one mission in mind: train with LLF paratroopers in a partnership that would increase both unit’s knowledge by teaching each other their tactics, and strengthen the bonds of NATO allies in Europe.
A key point of Uhlan Fury was a sling-load operation conducted by U.S. and LLF soldiers – a first for Lithuania.
Never before has LLF equipment been sling loaded and transported by U.S. military aircraft.
To do this, a harness is attached to four points of the equipment to be carried, and then is hooked by high-tensile cable to the underside of the aircraft.
Capt. Arnoldas Zilys, commander, 2nd Coy, Uhlan Battalion, stationed in Alytus, Lithuania, has been working hand-in-hand with Dog Company to ensure that not only do his soldiers receive the best training he can give them, but they diversify that training with partner units within the NATO framework.
"I’m very excited," Zilys said.
Adding, "I’m proud to be the commander of a unit that trains with Dog Company. I know we’re going in the right direction, and I’m looking forward to more hard training together."
In charge of the sling-load operations during Uhlan Fury, Sgt. Zachary Shirer, a section sergeant for 3rd Platoon, has worked with his LLF counterparts for the last three days, coaching, training and observing his piece of the Uhlan pie.
"I think the training went very well," said Shirer.
He added, "We spent a lot of time doing rehearsals and making sure the trucks were properly rigged and inspected. Because this was the first time the LLF have done this type of transport, we wanted to make sure they understood what right looks like."
As Uhlan Fury came to a close, the soldiers of Dog Company and the BUB packed away parachutes and loaded themselves into transport vehicles which took them back to the barracks on the training grounds.
They have gained experience and new friends while working together, thus proving that when NATO allies train together, it will improve the ability to operate as a combined force, which increases NATO’s ability to deter aggressors and promote peace and security.