Exercise Bayonet Vanguard is the capstone event that symbolizes the transfer of authority from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. The road march conducted in each Baltic nation by the Sky Soldiers in the east and the simultaneous arrival of the Abrams tanks from the west will ensure that there is continued presence of US forces.
Each leg of the Winter March is 50.3km, spanning a total of four countries, and demonstrating NATO’s ability to move forces freely across the Alliance. The physical ability of the paratroopers to endure harsh winter conditions while carrying full combat loads throughout northern Europe is a testament to the fortitude and readiness of NATO forces.
U.S. Paratroopers will march with Lithuanian Soldiers from Rukla to Trakai Castle, February 6-7, 2017. In Estonia, U.S. Paratroopers will march from Voka to Narva from Feb. 7-9, 2017. In Latvia, U.S. Paratroopers will march with the Latvian Land Forces in Rezneke, February 7-8, 2017. These routes were specifically chosen to demonstrate solidarity between NATO Allies. Throughout the movement, the Soldiers will interact with local populations and reassure them of the continued U.S. commitment to the Baltic States and NATO. The march will conclude with a consolidation of forces and the establishment of the Armor battalion across the Baltics.
The six-month long rotation has been a tremendous success for the Sky Soldiers and the host nations alike. Exercises and training events like Strong Shield, Silver Arrow, Steel Shield, Iron Sword, Pantera, Zobens and the Reconnaissance Leader’s Course helped build a more cohesive and unified NATO force. 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment will leave a lasting legacy by enhancing the overall readiness and setting the foundation for future rotations of U.S. and NATO forces throughout the Baltics.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deploying forces to the U.S. Army Europe, Africa and Central Command Areas of Responsibility within 18 hours.