The following article by Matthew Montgomery was published June 3 by Military Sealift Command. The USNS Button is operated by Crowley Liner Services and is manned in all licensed positions by American Maritime Officers.
KLAIPEDA, Lithuania - Military Sealift Command's (MSC) USNS SGT William R. Button (T-AK 3012), a Maritime Prepositioning Force containership, recently delivered mission-critical equipment for Exercise Saber Strike '18.
The equipment was transported for 4th Marine Logistics Group and Black Sea Rotational Force (BSRF) Marines. Combat Logistics Battalion 23 (CLB-23) and Combat Logistics Regiment 4 (CLR-4) Marines conducted off-load and assembly.
"Over the course of a couple days, Marines unloaded, assembled and performed necessary maintenance checks on the gear delivered by USNS Button," said Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Rogers, U.S. Marine Forces Europe and Africa lead exercise planner. "Saber Strike gives Marines the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to provide a flexible and adaptive force that can project power forward with support from the sea."
This is made possible by the support MSC provides to the Marine Corps and U.S. European Command for exercises throughout the region. Saber Strike, in the eighth iteration, is a long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise designed to enhance interoperability among allies and regional partners in the Baltic Sea.
This year's exercise focuses on improving land, sea, and air operational capabilities with an additional key objective to train with NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle-groups. The battle-groups, stationed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are part of NATO's overall deterrence and defense posture and are designed to demonstrate the Alliance's determination and ability to act as one in response to any aggression against members.
"By participating with different countries and executing this mission in different ports throughout the Baltic Area, it gives us the ability to use multiple locations in the event a real-world situation arises," said Rogers. "Additionally, it gives our partner nations the ability to exercise receiving, processing and supporting the arrival of additional forces in their country."
During Saber Strike, Marine Corps forces will consist of approximately 1,100 personnel serving with the Black Sea Rotational Force, 2nd Marine Division and a contingent of Marine Forces Reserve. Reserve personnel comprise the majority of Marines supporting the offload of gear and equipment in Klaipeda.