U.P. Nat’l Guard soldiers forming long-term relationships with European counterparts

Courtesy: Captain Doug Halleaux from the Michigan Army Nat’l Guard

LATVIA– Soldiers from the Michigan Army National Guard attended the opening ceremony for Operation Silver Arrow, a multinational training exercise led by the Latvian Army here in Latvia.  Elements from the U.S. and Latvian forces will be joined by Estonian, Norwegian, and British troops throughout the week, testing tactical and technical skills and interoperability.

The Michigan soldiers’ role is deeply integrated, representing another step in what has been a long-time relationship with the Latvian Army.

Master Sergeant Joseph Battisfore, a Hancock native, is the primary liaison this week between the two groups.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time with Latvia, and it’s just a continuation of our commitment to each other, our ability to work together, this is nothing new for us, but it’s nice to actually move another step forward with a larger NATO exercise,” he said.

Battisfore plans for the integration of Michigan soldiers into the Latvian units to have long-lasting impacts.

“I want them to understand that there are different ways to accomplish tasks, and that we have many partners around the world, and we need to understand that it’s important to exercise interoperability, to check that, to learn how to operate with other forces that have slightly different standards and slightly different equipment,” Battisfore said.

Silver Arrow continues through the first week of October, after which Michigan soldiers will return home.