SOCEUR kicks off expanded training with Baltics, regional partners

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American and Estonian Special Operation Forces stand in formation during the opening ceremony of Spring Storm 2014 in Amari, Estonia on May 6, 2014. Spring Storm is an annual training event and has evolved into the largest field training exercise in the Baltic States.

American and Estonian Special Operation Forces stand in formation during the opening ceremony of Spring Storm 2014 in Amari, Estonia on May 6, 2014. Spring Storm is an annual training event and has evolved into the largest field training exercise in the Baltic States.

American and Estonian Special Operation Forces stand in formation during the opening ceremony of Spring Storm 2014 in Amari, Estonia on May 6, 2014. Spring Storm is an annual training event and has evolved into the largest field training exercise in the Baltic States.

AMARI AIR BASE, Estonia (May 8, 2014) –U.S. Special Operations forces, in support of Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), participated in an opening ceremony for Exercise Spring Storm Monday.   This opening ceremony kicked of the special operations portion of the Estonian Defense Forces’ annual exercise. 

The start of this exercise marks the beginning of a series of annual, multinational and bilateral special operations exercises.  From May 18-30, Lithuania will host Flaming Sword 14, a multinational special operations exercise, with SOCEUR units and six European partners participating.  SOCEUR will join Latvian special operations forces in Latvia’s annual national-level defense exercise, Namejs 14 from May 19-25.

“Through these types of annual exercises, SOCEUR elements have developed lasting relationships and extensive interoperability with our special operations partners in the majority of countries bordering Ukraine over the last seven years.  These relationships continue to pay dividends as we conduct combat operations in Afghanistan together as part of Combined Special Operations Task Force 10,” said SOCEUR Commander Air Force Maj Gen Marshall B. Webb.

SOCEUR has also added a number of Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) events in five countries across the Baltics and Eastern Europe to be conducted over the next two months.  These JCET events are the first in a series of expanded U.S. special operations training activities in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region; they are the first in a developing persistent rotational SOF presence in the region.  These training engagements will provide U.S. Special Operations forces with valuable opportunities to hone their language skills, gain vital understanding of the environment and culture in which their partners operate, and sharpen their tactical skills. This is standard training for special operations units and is conducted at the request of the partner nation.

“The numerous small unit engagements conducted with our partners each year inevitably lead to stronger relationships and more robust operational capabilities.  An important byproduct of these relationships is that we reassure our partners and allies of U.S. support to deter aggression and promote regional stability,” said Webb.

SOCEUR is a subordinate unified command of U.S. Special Operations Command, under the operational control of U.S. European Command, exercising command and control of theater Army, Navy, and Air Force Special Operations Forces. As the SOCEUR Commander, Webb is responsible for special operations readiness, targeting, exercises, plans, joint and combined training, and execution of counterterrorism, peacetime and contingency operations. 

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