Armed Forces units will boost their interoperability and compatibility during “Winter Shield” exercise
From 21 November to 4 December, Latvia will host international military exercise “Winter Shield” to test and upgrade the combat capabilities of Latvian and allied Armed forces units along with their integration and interoperability within Baltic region’s collective defence system.
Participants of military exercise “Winter Shield” include military personnel from Land Force Mechanised Infantry Brigade, National Guard, Special Operations Command, NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group deployed to Latvia, Baltic Battalion and US Special Operations Command Europe.
Baltic Battalion and NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia will use “Winter Shield” to practice joint regional defence operations and demonstrate compatibility and mobility of their units.
A significant aspect of the exercise is also air to land integration with various air assets, including “AH-64 Apache” Attack Helicopters from the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade falling under US Army Europe (USAREUR) and Operation “Atlantic Resolve”.
“Winter Shield” exercise includes joint special operations training for Special Operations Command, National Guard Special Operations Unit and US Special Operations Command Europe units.
“Winter Shield” special operations component includes joint training activities for National Armed Forces units, US Special Forces and NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia. The aim of the training is to test the integration and joint operations capabilities, i.e. the ability to work together with National Guard and Land Force Mechanised Infantry Brigade units to improve command and control, coordination, interoperability and compatibility.
On 8 June 2012, Baltic Defence Committee decided to create a regional battalion-size unit once every four years for NATO Response Force. Baltic defence ministers signed the Memorandum of Understanding on forging of battalion-size unit during Baltic Defence Committee meeting of 18 March 2014. Certification of Baltic Battalion for NATO Response Force was completed on 5 October 2019, during the “Silver Arrow” exercise. Baltic Battalion led by Latvia assumed command of NATO Response Force in 2020.
Canada is the framework nation of the multi-national battle group Latvia, which consists of more than fifteen hundred troops from Albania, Czech Republic, Italy, Iceland, Canada, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Battle group troops are deployed to Latvia on rotational basis to take part in joint training with National Armed Forces. Such cooperation enhances compatibility with regional allies and partners and improves capability to respond to security challenges.
The aim for creating and deploying NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group to Latvia was to promote NATO’s deterrence policy, strengthen Alliance’s defence capabilities, demonstrate its solidarity and commitment to defend itself against all kinds of aggression. Formal welcome ceremony of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia was held on 19 June 2017 at the Camp Ādaži.
The United States of America is a trusted strategic partner of Latvia and long-term ally who has played an important role in strengthening Latvia’s security over the years. Following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine in spring of 2014, US launched the operation “Atlantic Resolve”, which involves permanent presence of US troops (a company-size unit) in Latvia.
Latvian and US troops are also taking part in regular joint exercise and other training activities designed to enhance interoperability and compatibility required to perform various tasks, including delivery of special operations.