Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Army Military Police, Engineers Prepare for Exercise Saber Strike 2018

By Army 2nd Lt. Sierra N. Ejzak, 18th Military Police Brigade

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Soldiers with the 18th Military Police Brigade and the 15th Engineer Battalion are here preparing to participate in Saber Strike 2018, a multinational exercise.

The exercise will be held June 3-15 at training areas in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, facilitates cooperation and enhances the NATO alliance. This year’s exercise anticipates 18,000 participants from 19 countries.

The 18th Military Police Brigade will be supporting maneuver forces such as the 2nd Cavalry Regiment with movement support and area security. Operations range from joint convoy security with support from allied and partner forces to facilitating river crossings.

The brigade will consist of a military police battalion and an engineer battalion as well as soldiers from U.S. Army Correctional Activity Europe, who have been setting the stage for the exercise. National Guard units from Puerto Rico, Michigan and Indiana will join the brigade, along with partners and allies from seven countries, including the United Kingdom, Poland, Germany and Macedonia.

Tough, Realistic Training

The brigade is preparing for the exercise through tough, realistic training, and by performing a thorough route reconnaissance that identified and marked key infrastructure along routes from Germany through Poland. The 709th Military Police Battalion completed preparations for Saber Strike 2018 with a live-fire exercise that tested the weapons, maneuvering and communications capabilities at each level of the organization.

“The training leading up to this summer has prepared our soldiers to work together almost seamlessly,” said Army 1st Lt. Chad Wanek, platoon leader from the 529th Military Police Company. “We’ve seen a lot of improvement … all the way to the company level. We were able to get after tasks that greatly improve our unit’s readiness, and that’s where we make our money.”

Multiple MP Missions

The military police will conduct law enforcement, border crossing assistance and route reconnaissance missions throughout the exercise.

The 15th Engineer Battalion recently completed the Resolute Castle exercise, and the battalion’s commander, Army Lt. Col. John McNamara, said he was pleased with his unit’s soldiers.

“Resolute Castle has prepared the battalion for Saber Strike by allowing soldiers and leaders to plan and execute mobility and survivability tasks in an unconstrained training area,” McNamara said. “Soldiers built and dug various types of fighting positions and constructed combat roads and trails maximizing the amount of time each soldier operated their assigned piece of equipment.”

USS Manchester Commissioned as Navy's Newest Surface Ship

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob I. Allison, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 1

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- The littoral combat ship USS Manchester was commissioned as the Navy’s newest surface combatant vessel during a ceremony here, May 26.

The vessel is the Navy’s second ship to be named for the city of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Littoral combat ships are high speed, agile, shallow draft, surface combatant vessels designed for operations in the near-shore environment, yet fully capable of open-ocean operations.

“The faces of the sailors that ran to man this ship are the faces that I’ve seen day after day for the last 22 months as we worked to bring this ship to life,” Navy Cmdr. Emily Basset, Manchester’s commanding officer and a Seattle native, said during the vessel’s commissioning ceremony.

‘Each Sailor is Highly Trained’

Basset added, “They took the city of Manchester's Latin motto, ‘Labor Vincit’ -- work conquers -- and they have personified the spirit of our namesake city. Each sailor is highly trained and must do the duties that three or four would do on another ship. These sailors are reasons to make us all proud.”

The ship’s sponsor, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen representing New Hampshire, gave the traditional order to, “Man this ship and bring her to life,” signaling the sailors to embark and officially begin the vessel’s service as a Navy ship.

For the ship’s crew, the day was the culmination of months’ worth of work to get the Manchester prepared for commissioning. Having the commissioning in the ship’s namesake state was a special opportunity for some of Manchester’s sailors.

“It’s really amazing to be on a ship named for [a city in] my home state,” said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Laryssa Noyes, an information systems technician from Derry, New Hampshire. “It’s really quite an honor that I’m here for this. It’s awesome because my family got to be here and see what I do on a daily basis.”

After the ceremony, the ship will transit to join Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 1 and eight other littoral combat ships currently homeported at Naval Base San Diego.

Manchester is the 12th littoral combat ship and the seventh of the Independence variant.

Litterol combat ships have the ability to counter and outpace evolving threats independently or within a network of surface combatants. Paired with advanced sonar and mine hunting capabilities, the vessels provide a major contribution, as well as a more diverse set of options to commanders, across the spectrum of operations.