Story by Staff Sgt. Travis Fontane, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Green Beret divers from the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and Latvian Special Operation Forces (SOF) divers conducted a maritime beach landing and exercise in Latvia on May 27-28, 2021. The event was the culmination of ten weeks of training as the teams shared tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to enhance military readiness, teamwork and joint confidence while promoting peace and stability in Europe.
“It was definitely a positive experience,” said the 10th Group dive team commander. “We built off each other, they used some of our techniques and we use some of theirs helping us all come together.”
The teams focused on a range of unconventional warfare maritime tasks such as: beach landings, maritime medivac techniques and vessel boarding search and seizure (VBSS). The bilateral SOF training included practicing weapon skills at different ranges, close-quarters battle (CQB) during day and night conditions and also conducting open and closed circuit dive training.
Photo: 10th SFG and Latvian dive teams conduct a casualty evacuation drill during maritime operations training in Latvia. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Travis Fontane, 10th SFG, May 27, 2021)
“Each country has its own standard operating procedures (SOP),” said the 10th Group dive team member. “The Latvian tier one asset is able to do CQB their way, our way, or integrate into a team and do it together.”
The training went beyond just tactical skills. On May 25, the two teams worked out together in a physical training (PT) session dedicated to fallen 10th Group Soldiers as part of wider Memorial Day commemorations.
“Both sides have sustained casualties, so we respect and honor each other’s fallen,” said the dive team commander. “Both units have comradery and enjoy friendly competition – the memorial PT was a rewarding and competitive event.”
The day before the mission both the U.S. and Latvian dive teams ran rehearsals and the 10th Group dive team member explained his opinion about the importance of rehearsing before a mission.
“It was beaten into my head a long time ago by my old team sergeants that rehearsals are where you make your money,” he said. “You can have the best plan in the world but if you don’t rehearse it, something is always going to go wrong. Rehearsals help soldiers be more prepared and leaders to control the chaos.”
The teams combined this training into a final exercise that would push the team’s planning, thinking and resilience to their limits. The 20-man element carried out their mission for more than 24 hours while wet, hungry and tired. The scenario included a beach landing and a 4km movement through a dense swampy wooded area.
Photo: A U.S. Army Green Beret dive team assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) along with a Latvian Special Operation Forces (SOF) dive team move 4 km through dense swampy woodland areas to an objective rally point (ORP) in Latvia on May 27-28, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Travis Fontane)
The teams then formed an objective rally point while waiting for nightfall. Under the cover of darkness, team Alpha went to their designated position providing overwatch and placing simulation explosives on a mock SA21, which is a Russian made surface-to-air missile system. At the same time, team Bravo consisting of both Green Berets and Latvian SOF, raided a simulated urban building. After exploding the door they engaged the opposition forces with simulation rounds, and captured a high-value individual.
After regrouping, the teams patrolled back through the woods to a vehicle linkup point where they were ambushed and took a mock casualty. The teams loaded the casualty and themselves into the vehicle and drove 70km back towards the beach.
After the teams were dropped off, they continued through the woods towards the beach with their casualty on litter. While waiting to be picked-up by the boats, the teams took turns pulling security and changing into dry-suits. They then loaded onto the boats where the dive team medics stabilized the casualty as they returned to base.
The simulated mission achieved the key tasks of NATO interoperability and developing skills at the tactical level. The executed mission’s strategic effect would allow follow-on NATO forces to more safely carry out their operations.
The 10th Group dive team commander explained why Latvia was a good place to train. “Any time we get a chance to train with our Latvian partners it’s a great opportunity,” said the 10th Group dive team commander. “This is a great place for a 10th Special Forces Group dive team to come and train.”
Photo: A U.S. Army Green Beret dive team assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) along with a Latvian Special Operation Forces (SOF) team conduct a maritime beach landing and raid scenario over a 24-hour period in Latvia on May 27-28, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Travis Fontane)
Story: Story by Staff Sgt. Travis Fontane, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). This article was originally published on June 10, 2021 by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. DVIDS media content is within the public domain.