An international exercise hosted by the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces kicked off back in April: it aims to hone the readiness of the 1,300 participants from 15 NATO and partner nations to give a swift and effective response to various types of conventional and hybrid threats in cyber, airspace, land and maritime territories of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The Exercise was visited by Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys, Chief of Defence of Estonia Lt Gen Martin Herem currently on a visit in Lithuania, and Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) Maj Gen David H. Tabor in its final phase on May 12.
“Other NATO countries and our Allies view Lithuania and the Baltic region as the focal point where they need to get accustomed to training to act in full volume to become ready for a high-intensity aggression. The Special Operations Forces are training according to targeted scenarios, in a multinational environment with foreign partners, and also testing the chain of command, from NATO to national capabilities, thus getting ready for challenges of hybrid warfare,” Chief of Defence LT Gen Valdemaras Rupšys said.
Such international exercises increase interoperability between NATO allies and partners with a special focus on execution of special operations in the run-up to a potential activation of the NATO Article 5.
“Exercise Flaming Sword is unique in a number of ways this year as it responds to the doubtlessly change security situation in Europe,” says Commander of the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces Col Mindaugas Mažonas. “I would pick the integral character of Flaming Sword 2022 and it being linked with significantly larger multinational special forces exercise Trojan Footprint as the key highlight about its uniqueness. That strongly expands the ability of NATO Allied and partner special forces to train together. The ability to act together, act swiftly and effectively with an integrated allied force is one of the cornerstone advantages of the Special Operations Forces.”
The Exercise trains combat readiness and interoperability by involving various services of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, members of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, cadets of the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy, an other public institutions (representatives from various municipalities and sub-districts, Lithuanian Police, Fire and Rescue Department, ambulance station medics, etc.) who have a critical role in the response to hybrid threats in prevention of potential conventional conflicts.
The tactical rhythm of exercise operations was supported by the F-18 Hornet of the Royal Air Force of Spain, JAS39 Grippens of the Czech Air Force, and the AW159 Wild Cat helicopters of the British Armed Forces. Flaming Sword 2022 for the first time ran a large-scale digitally aided coordination systems which ensure precise coordination of target data between Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) and pilots with minimal radio communications footprint.
This has also been the first in Flaming Sword series that the Air Force Special Operations Command Special (AFSOC SOST (Operations Surgical Team) and the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces has been operating as a joint unit. Both teams have the same goal: to ensure surgical and reanimation damage control in any conditions and on any platforms or absent of any.