VILNIUS - During the last two weeks of July, the Baltic states will host a joint military and anti-terrorism exercise designed to test a multinational force reaction to disasters and medical emergencies.
The armed forces of the Baltics are among 14 countries taking part in the international exercise, dubbed Rescuer and Medceur 2004. Nearly 2,000 troops from the United States, Germany, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan will partake in the exercises together with host-nation troops.
This military practice marks the first large-scale operation undertaken by the Baltic countries since becoming NATO partners in April 2004.
"Our soldiers participate in various international missions; therefore, sharing different experiences and preparing in advance to coordinate international actions becomes a very useful task," said Captain Lieutenant Virginijus Gecas, head of the Rescuer information center in Lithuania.
Directed by U.S. Army Europe and partially sponsored by the U.S. European Command, the exercises provide medical training while assessing the nations' ability to participate in anti-terrorism actions. The programs provide a real-world assessment of medical capabilities and check response action to both disaster scenarios and military contingencies.
In Klaipeda, the Medceur part of the exercize will include medics reacting to a series of incidents with multiple casualties.
The most difficult scenario will take place on July 28, when a train collides with an abandoned automobile full of dangerous chemicals. After a powerful fire, over 200 injured actors will be evacuated to the hospitals of Klaipeda, Kaunas and Vilnius.
Military rescuers will be trained to apply methods of modern communication. While helping the "victims" of July 28, doctors from Kaunas medical university clinics will directly consult participants via teleconference.
The simulations are based on situations considered to have the greatest potential threat to the state.
"With the strong industrialization in Klaipeda's port, the industrial disaster scenario of the practice seems rather realistic. We have previously studied theoretical salvation programs over computer modules, yet have never had a chance to accomplished that in practice," said Major Vygintas Sereika, the coordinator of the medical part of the exercise in Lithuania.
Although similar theoretical military exercises were arranged in Lithuania in 2002, this Rescuer program is the first joint arrangement with civilian forces.
"We particularly value the possibility to unite civilian and military forces together in the same practice, up until now this necessity was inscribed only for the future plans," said Gecas.
During the drill in Latvia, a computer-assisted scenario runs troops through anti-terrorism disaster responses and search and rescue exercises. The drill is designed to provide training in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and response operations.
In Talinn, international troops will take part in a diving exercise to test their abilities to handle underwater threats and salvage operations.
Humanitarian projects, including school and orphanage construction and renovation, will develope nearby each of the three training sites. With financial assistance from U.S. Army Europe, the soldiers of the engineering battalion in Lithuania are building a wooden bridge over the Sysa River and also renovating an orphanage in Klaipeda.