As Moldova’s pro-European political parties celebrated an electoral victory against Russian-backed rivals, Marines headed into the small, former Soviet republic to talk anti-armor best practices with local troops.
A mix of about 15 assaultmen and anti-tank missilemen with the Romania-based Black Sea Rotational Force arrived in Balti, Moldova for the weeklong joint training exercise following what many experts see as a success for the West in what some call a resurgence of Cold War-era tension with Moscow. Despite alleged Russian meddling, a trio of pro-European parties secured enough votes in the Nov. 30 election to retain control of the nation’s parliament.
Arriving about a week after polls closed, the detachment of Marines led a mix of conscripts and career soldiers with varying specialties — most were artillerymen — in discussions about doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures. The event, which included a live-fire exercise, saw the troops use the FGM-148 Javelin, AT4 Anti-Tank Weapon and shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapons, as well as Moldova’s rocket propelled grenade system and 70mm recoilless rifle.
Officials said the timing of the combined exercise was unrelated to Moldova’s elections in the Corps’ account of the training session. First Lt. Ben Skarzynski, executive officer for the rotational force’s weapons company who oversaw the exercise, would only go so far as to describe it as giving the Moldovans the “capability to provide for themselves.”
“We didn’t talk about anything very specific to the Russians, like ‘The Russians are coming down, what do you do?’ But, obviously, we’re interested in promoting regional security,” Skarzynski said.