PA Guardsmen head to Eastern Europe

Following President Obama’s commitment to security in Central and Eastern Europe against Russia, about 50 of Pennsylvania’s soldiers and airmen from the national guard were deployed to Eastern Europe from Middletown, Dauphin County Thursday morning.

The guardsmen will be participating in a multinational exercise in Lativa called “Saber Strike” — a security cooperation exercise that mainly focuses on the three Baltic states and is led by the U.S. Army Europe.

“One of our primary training objectives for both countries, and all countries that are participating, is just increasing our core competency. We’re a reconnaissance element, so we focus on reconnaissance and security operations,”  Troop Commander David Fittipoldi said.

The exercise spans multiple locations in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. They involve about 2,000 personnel from 14 countries.

“It’s a demonstration of overseas deployment on a relatively short notice and then moving in side-by-side with a NATO ally,” Major General Wesley Craig of the Pa National Guard said.

Meanwhile, President Obama is in Belgium for the G7 Summit and has vowed to stand with Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, in the face of Russian “aggression.” That “aggression” includes Russia’s annex of Ukraine’s Crimea region back in March.