On September 22 – 24 Commander of the Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command Lieutenant General Erich Pfeffer and his delegation were conducting an official visit to Lithuania. It was one of the three high level visits to Lithuania that week.
“Germany is one of the key partners in the defence planning and deterrence for our country. Lt Gen Erich Pfeffer is a true Lithuanian Armed Forces ambassador when it comes to long-term projects of the military or development, as well as such circumstances that require actual assistance of the allies to complete tasks in the Lithuanian military. This meeting has made me see a very feasible opportunity to considerably strengthen the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group, as well as to intensify the partnership between the Special Operations Forces of our countries. It is now important to do our homework and I am prepared to make the decisions that realization of such opportunities require,” Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys said.
It was a farewell visit for the German officer whose contacts with the Lithuanian Armed Forces had become close in the recent years. The officer will retire in a short while and as he put it, it was his wish to farewell his Lithuanian friends and partners in person and to thank them for all the support they had rendered for allied forces over all the years of cooperation.
At a meeting with Chief of Defence Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys and Chief of the Defence Staff Brig Gen Mindaugas Steponavičius Lt Gen Erich Pfeffer discussed topical issues of joint military training and activities and plans for the future, regional security, joint projects, and further cooperation. The guest visited soldiers deployed with the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group training at the General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area in Pabradė.
“Germany’s contribution to the Lithuanian security is a substantial example of NATO partnership and solidarity,” said Vice Minister of National Defence Žilvinas Tomkus. On September 24 he bestowed a Ministry of National Defence Medal on Commander of the Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command.
The German officer was decorated as a sign of appreciation of his input in the deployment of the NATO enhance Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania and implementation of its activity. It has been a weighty input as the NATO eFP is subordinate to the Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command and Lt Gen . E. Pfeffer has substantial merits in the development of the bilateral military German-Lithuanian cooperation.
“We are grateful to Germany for the leadership in implementing Alliance deterrence and defence in Lithuania, a key role in the security of Lithuania and the Baltic states. We highly value not only the German leadership in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group but also for the active involvement in the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states, investment into the development of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and NATO eFP infrastructure in Lithuania, Vice Minister Ž. Tomkus said at the meeting. Lt Gen E. Pfeffer and Vice Minister discussed the most pressing aspects of the Lithuanian-German defence cooperation and the response to the hybrid threats arising from the East.
The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group was deployed in Lithuania in 2017, by consensus of all NATO allies, in the wake of the threats presented to the region by the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Germany leads the NATO eFP as the Framework Nation and has the largest troop contingent in it. Since 2018, the country has been a strong leader in training area modernization projects and investment in military training infrastructure in Lithuania.
Over this period of time, the Federal Ministry of Defence has fully or in part financed and implemented a variety of projects aimed at improving the welfare of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in LIthuania, development of temporary infrastructure needed in Rukla, acquisition of target lifters for Pabradė Training Area, etc.
One of the largest projects related to the NATO eFP Lithuania and planned to be completed by 2023 is investment into the needs of the NATO eFP based in Rukla, such as equipment, gear, maintenance, storage infrastructure.
Back in June the Federal Ministry of Defence of Germany confirmed the plans to invest into building infrastructure in Rukla common with the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The project design of the barracks, multirole centre, mess hall, training facility, sports grounds and other infrastructure begins in 2022. The German investment in military infrastructure will amount to approx. EUR 100 million until 2023 and another approx. EUR 150 million afterwards.