FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – The recent Vigilant Guard 2014 domestic emergency preparedness exercise conducted across the state integrated several Lithuanian military and civil response officers as part of Pennsylvania’s long-standing relationship with the Baltic nation.
Hosted by the Pennsylvania National Guard and conducted May 7-16, this iteration of the U.S. Northern Command and National Guard Bureau Vigilant Guard exercise series was the largest to date..
“Our main focus is conventional warfighting and this is a different type of exercise than we usually do back home,” said Maj. Arnas Mikaila, a planning officer in the Lithuania army.
Vigilant Guard is a domestic emergency preparedness exercise that tests the readiness of the National Guard and its ability to work with federal, state and local responders.
Mikaila was one of the commanding officers with the Lithuanian troops who traveled here for Vigilant Guard. He’s responsible for conducting a similar upcoming Lithuanian exercise.
“Personally, I’m able to take some of these experiences back and use them in planning the exercise in October,” he said. “My primary task was to come here and get knowledge and experience from how you would conduct such an exercise, especially on the military cooperation with civilian-emergency agencies.”
The members of the Lithuania armed forces were integrated with Pennsylvania National Guard members and participated in exercise areas such as logistics, engineering, cyber and operations.
Mikaila was impressed with the reality-based field training exercises that were conducted at different locations. “It’s really good to see how you train your soldiers,” he said. “It’s a big exercise that requires a lot of effort.”
Before Vigilant Guard there was Amber Hope, a drill hosted by Lithuania for NATO forces that has included Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers and airmen. The Guard members served as medical instructors, command staff observers, administrators and support personnel.
Last year, Lithuania and Pennsylvania celebrated 20 years as partners in the State Partnership Program.