SHAPE, Belgium – Allied Command Operations (ACO) Command Senior Enlisted Leader (CSEL) Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Siim Saliste recently wrapped up a tour of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Groups alongside visits to various commands around the Baltic region.
The Soldiers from each group are continuously training, successfully preparing for their defensive tasks and are putting the mission first while adapting to any challenges they have or will face.
Starting with a visit to U.S.-led eFP Poland, located in the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, CSM Saliste met with Lieutentant Colonel Jeffery Higgins, the Battle Group's commander, and CSM Keneti Pauulu. The Battle Group is host to approximately 1,000 U.S. troops and 350 supporting troops from Croatia, Romania and the U.K.
"Throughout these visits it is evident that these multinational Battle Groups are accomplishing the mission and task set forth for each of them, to deter and defend the North-eastern flank of the Alliance," said CSM Saliste. "The Soldiers from each group are continuously training, successfully preparing for their defensive tasks and are putting the mission first while adapting to any challenges they have or will face."
ACO CSEL CSM Siim Saliste, centre-right, is greeted by NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group CSEL CSM Keneti Pauulu, left, during a visit to the Battle Group located in the Bemowo Piskie Training Area of Poland. (NATO Photo by MC1 Brett Dodge)
During the visit to Poland, CSM Saliste also met with NATO Multinational Corps Northeast (MNC-NE) CSEL Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Waldemar Malinowski and CSEL of the Polish Armed Forces CWO Sławomir Nastarowicz to provide insight on the Polish forces, effectiveness of their mission and support the engagements.
"It was a very important and fruitful visit for all the eFP NCOs," said CWO Nastarowicz. "Especially in this hard COVID-19 time, troops have to know and feel they're not left alone, and their NATO leaders will take care of them at any time. Thanks to CSM Saliste's visit they are all aware now, they're doing great job showing the strength of the Alliance in the region; demonstrating deterrence by intensive training and presence."
ACO CSEL CSM Siim Saliste, left, meets with leaders from NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Lithuania during a visit to the Battle Group located in Rukla, Lithuania. (NATO Photo by MC1 Brett Dodge)
On the second leg of the tour CSM Saliste visited multiple commands throughout Lithuania including NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) Lithuania, Mechanized Infantry Brigade 'Iron Wolf', and the German-led eFP Lithuania. eFP Lithuania is host to approximately 560 German troops supported by contributions from Belgium, Czech Republic, Iceland, Netherlands and Norway.
During the visit CSM Saliste met with each command's leadership including fellow CSELs eFP Lithuania's CSM Volker Rothmann, NFIU CSM Bernhard Deeterink, 'Iron Wolf' CSM Darius Kolodzeiskis and Lithuanian Land Force's CSM Darius Masiulis.
"It is critical to all of our Allied nations that we have the opportunity to meet and discuss our successes and areas for improvement; specifically focusing on our NCO corps," said CSM Saliste. "Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our face-to-face interactions have been limited but our teams have been able to adapt and stay mission focused. Keeping our lines of communication open can only lead to further growth and enhanced readiness of all our forces."ACO CSEL CSM Siim Saliste, right, speaks to troops during a visit to NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia located in Adazi, Latvia. (NATO Photo by MC1 Brett Dodge)
On the third leg of his tour of the Baltic region, CSM Saliste visited troops at eFP Latvia, the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade and Multination Division (MND) North. There he met with fellow CSM's including eFP Latvia's CWO M.D. Anderson, Brigade CSM Arvis Mucenieks, MND North's CSM Andreas Rebane and Latvian Armed Forces CSEL Edgars Joksts-Bogdanovs
After meeting with troops, CSM Saliste shared some of the observations from ACO leadership regarding the successes of each Battle Group.
"It's reassuring to see that despite some of the challenges the Alliance, and the world have faced this year each team remains fighting ready," said CSM Saliste. "Each Battle Group or Brigade throughout this tour has demonstrated that they have the tools and the drive to train and empower not only their Non-commissioned officers, but their teams as a whole."
The Canadian-led eFP Latvia is host to approximately 525 Canadian troops supported by contributing nations Albania, Czech Republic, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. The camp is based in the forested area of Adazi, Latvia.ACO CSEL CSM Siim Saliste speaks with an Estonian Soldier during a visit to NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Estonia located in Tapa, Estonia. (NATO Photo by MC1 Brett Dodge)
Lastly, CSM Saliste wrapped up his tour in his native Estonia, where he had the opportunity to meet with leaders from eFP Estonia as well as the Estonian 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades. During the visit he met with fellow CSM's including eFP Estonia's CSM David Barton, 1st Brigade CSM Renzo Rajaste and 2nd Brigade CSM Helari Pilve.
"The visit of the ACO CSEL at the Estonian 2nd BDE met two major targets," said CSM Pilve. "First of all, confirming to our NCOs, who will take this message directly to the troopers, that the commitment of our allies to us is one hundred percent real. Secondly the fact that NATO´s top NCO position is occupied by our countryman, demonstrates, that the career for the NCO is not limited to service at the national level only, but can also offer various opportunities within the NATO structure."
The U.K-led eFP Estonia is host to approximately 800 British troops supported by personnel from contributing Allies Denmark, France and Iceland. It is located in Tapa, Estonia alongside the Estonian 1st
With eFP, NATO has enhanced its presence in the North-eastern part of the Alliance, with four multinational battle groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These battle groups, led by the U.K, Canada, Germany and the U.S. respectively, are multinational, combat-ready, and serve, inter alia, to demonstrate the strength of the transatlantic bond. Their presence underlines that an attack on one Ally will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance. NATO's battle groups form part of the largest reinforcement of NATO's Collective Defence in a generation.
The four battle groups are under NATO command, through MNC-NE in Szczecin, Poland. Multinational Division Northeast Headquarters in Elblag, Poland coordinates and supervises training and preparation activities of the four battle groups.