On December 22 Chief of Defence Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys had a meeting with his German counterpart Inspector General of the Bundeswehr Gen Eberhard Zorn conducting a visit to Lithuania. General bilaterally discussed the security situation in the region, deterrence and defence plans regarding the rotational German troops presence in Lithuania, and assistance to Ukraine alongside with replenishment of Lithuanian Armed Forces capabilities which would allow to continue weaponry donations to the violated neighbor. German Chief of Defence also paid a visit to the German military personnel manning the Forward Command Element (FCE) of the German Brigade and the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group deployed at Rukla. The Christmas visit to troops serving abroad is a longstanding tradition upheld by the militaries of many countries.
“It is inevitable that the first thing the Russian aggression encounters in case it is in Lithuania is our Armed Forces, therefore we have to constantly update and harmonize defence plans with Allies and to train together so that we understand each other without words. We can tell from the intensifying cooperation with the Bundeswehr, procurement of tactical vehicles, equipment and weaponry that we can trust them and we will be never let down,” said Lt Gen V. Rupšys.
The Lithuanian Armed Forces turns to Allies for a firm reassuring the donated equipment will be replenished as it wishes to continue delivering military assistance to Ukraine. However, weapons is not Lithuania’s only aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, it comes together with training for Ukrainian troops across different cooperation formats Ukraine and hospital treatment and rehabilitation for the injured in Lithuania.
“The FCE of the 41st Mechanized Brigade deployed in Lithuania on September 4, it is formed in line with the NATO decisions taken in the wake of the Russian war in Ukraine. The German Brigade Forward Control Element will be implementing its combat readiness plans in Lithuania, attend Lithuanian Armed Forces exercises and alongside Lithuanian and other countries’ troops,” said Gen E. Zorn.
The firs exercise together with the Lithuanian Armed Forces Fast Griffin has already taken place in early October certifying readiness of German and Lithuanian forces to deliver effective defence. Members of the German FCE also trained in the recently wrapped national military command and command element procedure test CPX Thunder Storm 2022 as part of the Lithuanian Land Force command.
“Germany is the NATO eFP framework nation and forms the constant core of the battalion with Dutch, Norwegian and Czech troops, it is armed with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other tactical support and logistical equipment. German also has plans for significant investment into military NATO eFP-related infrastructure and warehouses, as well as a NATO eFP logistical facility at Rukla,” noted German Chief of Defence during the visit to Lithuania.
Germany is an active participant of the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states, since 2012 it has provided five rotations flown from Zokniai Airbase and six rotations of the mission augmentation from Amari Airbase in Estonia. Lithuania plans joining the German-initiated European Sky Shield Initiative which aims at consolidating EU countries in a single air defence system in support of NATO tasks and objectives.
Cooperation with Germany is also developed through international operations. Lithuanians operate in composition of the German contingent in the United Nations operation MINUSMA in Mali , one Lithuanian officer serves in the headquarters of EUNAVFOR MED Operation IRINI in Rome and there is an agreement that a Ship Boarding Team of 12 will be deployed to the German ship which will patrol the operation area in 2023.
Germany has been particularly significantly contributing to regional security by investing in Lithuania’s military infrastructure and Armed Forces modernization for many years. Lithuania buys Infantry Fighting Vehicles Vilkas, G-36 assault rifles, HK SFP9 pistols from German companies, a project for procuring 10-ton trucks has been launched to strengthen the logistical capabilities of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Lithuania has already procured from Germany 16 items of 155 mm Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers whose drivers, maintenance personnel, gunners, chassis repair personnel are trained in Germany.
Photo cerdits: Sgt SPc 1st Class Ieva Budzeikaitė | LAF