NATO Air Defense Forces integrate in the Baltics

Soldiers from ten nations prepare static displays for closing ceremony of Tobruq Legacy 2020 at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania. Tobruq Legacy 20 is a multinational exercise led by Lithuania. Approximately 750 military personnel from 10 Allied nations including Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the United States participated in this exercise.

SIAULIAI AIR BASE, Lithuania — Soldiers assigned to 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, along with air defense forces from nine other NATO countries, participated in Tobruq Legacy 2020 from Sep. 14 to 25 in Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania.

Tobruq Legacy 20 is a biennial exercise designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. Air Defense Artillery forces and partner nations’ Surface Based Air Defense units.

The exercise tests NATO Allies and coalition partners’ ability to conduct operations in support of the defense of Europe and to improve NATO’s ability to execute integrated air and missile defense operations. Tobruq Legacy refines tactics, techniques and procedures for NATO collaboration and the establishment of a multi-national kill chain.

It is important for U.S. forces to have air defense assets on the modern day battlefield and be able to integrate with NATO allies.

“Air Defense is a game of chess and it’s about understanding the landscape of the battlefield, utilizing your assets, and anticipating the enemy’s next course of action to effectively neutralize those threats,” said Capt. Waiverly Washington, Alpha Battery Commander, 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. “The training environment was excellent since we had live enemy threats and ground ambushes to create the most realistic training opportunity,”

The exercise started with a short range air defense integration with the Lithuanian Mechanized Infantry Forces. A platoon from A/5-4 ADAR integrated with the Lithuanian King Mindaugas Hussars Battalion, providing air defense on the move for a 120km tactical convoy, culminating in a breach of Panevezys Air Base.

1st Lt. Benjamin Taitano, from A/5-4 ADAR, explained the importance of this maneuver, “It is astounding to see how quickly our Soldiers were able to adapt to the Lithuanian Infantry Battalion’s tactics, techniques and procedures in less than 24 hours; providing effective air defense coverage.”

Training with allies is essential in the joint fight to refine our procedures, to establish relationships with NATO allies and to grow together.

“Opportunities to train with our allies and partners allow Soldiers to form bonds and relationships that go beyond tactics and procedures,” said Capt. Drew DeFabio, Charlie Battery Commander, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery. “Camaraderie amongst Soldiers is powerful.”

If the call comes to defend our nation and its interests, our Soldiers will not only know how to fight alongside our brothers and sisters in arms, they’ll know who is there fighting alongside them, DeFabio explained.

This exercise has allowed the ability to build relationships and combined processes now, ensuring greater readiness to integrate quickly and deter any potential threat.

“We understand that we don’t fight alone, that we will have our allies on our left and right and the only way to be effective is to understand their intent,” Washington said “This is not a simple task. It will come from continuing to work with our partner nations to continue to build strong alliances.”

This was the largest air and missile defense exercise of 2020, and allowed the 10th AAMDC to work with allies and partners throughout Europe to ensure the most efficient integrated air and missile defense is being employed.