Experience exchange: US special forces troops in Lithuania

Experience exchange: US special forces troops in Lithuania

Lithuanian and US Special Forces have been holding joint training for quite a number of year. Major focus of „JCET 2009" training which took place in Klaipėda in June was completion of water special operations.


Wide range of operations


Exercise programme „JCET" (Joint Combined Exchange Training) was created in the USA in order to give members of the US Special Forces the opportunity to improve their skills in the countries of possible deployment as well as to cooperate with special forces of the host country. JCET type of exercise has been annually held in various states since 1970.


Link between Lithuanian and US Special Forces is as old as about a decade, cooperation was developed in joint exercises and training. US Special Forces delegate troops to annual exercises held in Lithuania almost every year.

This year „JCET" training in Klaipėda for Lithuanian SOF Special Purpose Service („žaliukai") and combat divers was attended by members of the US Special Operations Forces.


„The mission is not a training one. The exercise is based on exchanging experience acquired in international exercises and missions, and on improvement of tactical skills. By fulfilling standard procedures we aim to detect differing details between usual operation modes of our special forces. Of course, technical characteristics of our equipment differs greatly from what our colleagues from big and wealthy country that the USA is have, but regardless of that soldiers' training, motivation, and determination that we have plenty of was always the most important thing for Lithuanian SOF", commented representative of Lithuanian SOF Special Purpose Service on the joint exercise.

In Klaipėda members of Lithuanian and US Special Forces drilled combat skills, fulfilled wide spectrum of special land and sea (firing, diving, recuing hostages, fast rope descent, aboardage of a ship, and other) operations. Complex water special operations were the main focus of the training.


Ferry assault


The keynote and the most complex training operation of the exercise was conducted in equatorial waters of Klaipėda Seaport: Lithuanian and US troops trained to capture a ship in an open sea. Following a scenario arranged with AB „DFDS LISCO" troops conducted training intervention operations in a ferry sailing in an open sea. Staff and passengers of the ferry were notified about the exercise in advance.


All the special forces teams operating in water must be trained to capture a ship. Lithuanian Special Operations Forces train to conduct such operations for several years in territorial waters of Lithuania as well as in joint exercises of the allies abroad. Scenario of the exercise held in Klaipėda was designed to improve skills of capturing ships seized by terrorists, releasing shipcrews and passengers held hostages, and taking over illegal shipment.

Typical chain of actions in such cases is surveillance, reconnaissance, negotiations with occupants, and active actions if necessary.


Usually troops of Lithuanian SOF train to conduct aboardage with war ships, large-sized ferry was used for a second time. According to a SPS representative the main obstacle participants of the exercise had to overcome were high boardsides - up to 9 metres - of the ferry, whereas helicopter crew found it easer to hover above a bigger warship waiting for the assault team to rope-descend onboard.

Three-week joint training was concluded with a scenario-based exercise in Kariai Military Area. „The exercise revealed that Lithuanian Special Operations Forces are ready to fulfil water operations either on their own or jointly with coalition partners in Lithuania or beyond its borders. Continued cooperation with special forces of other allies will keep our forces in step with greatly experienced partner states," -said leadership of Lithuanian Special Operations Forces after JCET.


Ilona Skujaitė


Pictures of Dovilė Čižaitė and SOF archive.


Published in „Karys" magazine No.7-8 (2009)