Finnish soldiers teamed up with U.S. forces and other partner nations to participate in exercise Arrow 19 in Finland from May 6- 17.
Arrow 19 is an annual Finnish multinational exercise held to exercise platoon-to-battalion-sized mechanized infantry, artillery and mortar field training skills incorporating live-fire exercise of Finnish Armed Forces.
“It is important to create and foster international relationships between partner warfighters,” said 1st Lt. Robert Locker, communications officer with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
The exercise brought mechanized forces from four nations together at Pohjankangas, Niinisalo, Finland. U.S. Marines from 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 2nd Marine Division stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. U.S. Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 2D Cavalry, U.S. Army Europe, participated in the exercise along with The Royal Lancers, a British army armored intelligence unit, and an Estonian contingency of armored intelligence also took part in the exercise.
2nd TSB supported the exercise by rapidly deploying personnel and organizing the use of vehicles and other equipment from the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway storage facilities.
“Participating in such exercises allows II MEF to evaluate our ability to offload personnel and equipment, generate combat power across the Atlantic, and then redeploy assets through a known logistically complicated area of operation,” said Locker.
This year the exercise included a greater variety of Marine Corps wheeled and tracked vehicles than previous years, allowing more fast paced and complex maneuvers in coordination with allied and partner military forces.
“The force-on-force training allowed us, as a maneuver-centric force, to work alongside our partners and allies to improve and develop new techniques, tactics, and procedures in terrain that require a very deliberate approach in planning and execution for each attack,” said 1st Lt. Dillion Layman, a platoon commander with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd MarDiv, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
The weeklong force-on-force training used multiple integrated laser engagement system (MILES) and live-fire ranges.
MILES utilizes a laser sensor system with blank ammunition to simulate combat scenarios. The system is worn by ground troops as well as placed on combat vehicles taking place in the exercise. Units were divided into two teams and carried out simulated attacks on each there throughout the first week.
“It was good to get out of our comfort zone and train in an unfamiliar environment,” said Lance Cpl. Tyler Thompson, a Light Armored Vehicle crewman with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd MarDiv.
During the live-fire week of the exercise, the units worked as platoons to improve on tactics they developed during the previous week of training.
“The Finns were the most accommodating host nation I have worked with,” said Locker. “I look forward to working alongside the Finnish Army. They are an industrious force and know how to get effects on target, regardless of obstacles in their path.”
U.S. Marines first participated in the exercise in 2018, when 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve brought the M1A1 Abrams tanks to Finland to train for the first time.