ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia — U.S. Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited National Guard members at Adazi on June 10.
Lengyel toured multiple sites at the Latvian base, meeting the Colorado and Michigan National Guard members in the country for Exercise Saber Strike. Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Baltic region. The exercise tests the capability of multiple nations to act against a threat.
Lengyel began the visit in a conference with Lt. Col. Wade Rutland, commander of 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry; Col. Ilmars A. Lejins, commander of the Latvian Land Forces and Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general for the Michigan National Guard.
Rutland briefed the general on development plans for the Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup, which Canada leads in Latvia, and the welfare of the Canadian forces.
Lengyel visited members of 1775th Military Police Company, 210th Military Police Battalion, 177th Miiltary Police Brigade, Michigan Army National Guard; and 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery Regiment, 169th Fires Brigade, Colorado Army National Guard.
Michigan National Guard members and Airmen participated in Saber Strike since Michigan is Latvia's partner in the State Partnership Program. The program links states and partner countries in a mutually beneficial relationship.
"It's an important part of the NATO Alliance," Lengyel said. "The partnerships that we have in the National Guard with Estonia and Maryland, Latvia and Michigan, Pennsylvania and Lithuania, these are some of our oldest pieces of our State Partnership Program. They're important to us and we've been very successful in helping us become more interoperable."
Any potential scenario that will require a military response is going to be a combined operation, he said.
Exercises like Saber Strike unite nations in a common, military environment to encourage combined operations and strengthen ties between Allies and partners.
"Saber Strike is a very important exercise in that we get to work together, we get to make sure our forces are interoperable," Lengyel said. " We get to become familiar with the environment in Europe, so that together we can work for the common defense of our partner nations here. I think Saber Strike is an exercise that's gotten better every single year and particularly in the National Guard, the total force is lucky to have it."