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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 333-98
June 30, 1998

U.S. AND 11 EUROPEAN ARMED FORCES TRAIN FOR PEACE SUPPORTIN BALTIC CHALLENGE 98

The United States and 11 European nations will participate in Baltic Challenge 98, the largest peace support exercise held in the Baltic region. Conducted in the spirit of the "Partnership-for-Peace (PFP)" program, the exercise will take place at sea, land and air training locations in and near Klaipeda on the western coast of Lithuania from July10-25. The maritime phase starts July10, and the land phase of the exercise is from July16-25.

Baltic Challenge 98, or BC98, is a series of training activities to develop common understanding of peace support operations.

BC 98 training events include: check point/observation, land and maritime convoy, mine awareness, counter sniper, patrol and aviation, medical, quick reaction, maritime mine, parachute, and humanitarian relief. Also, two U.S. maritime prepositioning ships will conduct training activities offshore.

In conjunction with Baltic Challenge 98 are two related exercises: Baltic Castle 98 and Medical Central and Eastern Europe 98-2 (MEDCEUR 98-2). Baltic Castle 98 (May 4 - July1) is a program of construction and renovation work in preparation for Baltic Challenge. Ninety U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Army and Air National Guard engineers have joined forces with Lithuanian engineers to renovate barracks for the billeting of exercise participants as well as the command center, and oversee force protection projects at the 7th Dragoon Coastal Defense Battalion headquarters in Klaipeda.

Medical Central and Eastern Europe Exercise 98-2 (MEDCEUR 98-2, July 13-25) is a series of joint and combined activities to improve medical mass casualty operations, planning and coordination skills, and provide multi-level medical training. The hospital ship USNS Comfort and approximately 1,400 personnel from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Norway, Sweden and the United States are participating in MEDCEUR.

The exercise scenario is based on humanitarian assistance for an earthquake in Lithuania. The medical units in MEDCEUR 98-2 are part of the support force deployed to provide medical assistance. This is the first deployment of USNS Comfort to the European theater. The exercise includes helicopter medical evacuation to USNS Comfort and further evacuation into the fixed wing aeromedical evacuation system.

The exercises that make up Baltic Challenge 98 demonstrate the continuing interest of the United States in the stability of the Baltic region. The emphases of these exercises are regional stability, regional understanding and interoperability among the participating forces in conducting peace support operations.

About 4,600 military personnel, 17 ships and 22 aircraft, from Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, the United States and from the multinational Baltic battalion are participating in this year's exercise.

Lithuania is the host country for Baltic Challenge 98.

Baltic Challenge 98 will be commanded by Lithuanian and U.S. co-commanders. The Lithuanian co-commander is Col. Valdez Tutkus, Lithuanian Armed forces, and the U.S. co-commander is Col. James Haying, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

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