On February 2 U.S. rotational battalions in Lithuania changed over at a Hand Over/Take Over ceremony at the Lithuanian Armed Forces General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area (Pabradė county): colors of the Mustangs (1-8), 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, and the Rolling Thunder (3-16), 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, U.S. Army, were uncased at Camp Herkus.
“The presence of the United States of America in Lithuania and its commitments to regional security have never been so steadfast. We welcome the U.S. commitment to ensure an uninterrupted heel-to-toe U.S. battalion presence in Lithuania and in our turn we will continue to firmly live up to our commitment to render Host Nation Support and keep improving the conditions for the U.S. force presence here in Lithuania,” said Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas.
Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys welcomed the new rotation and farewelled the outgoing by noting that “the interoperability between the U.S. and the Lithuanian Armed Forces is not something that’s just there but something obtained through hard work and joint training, and it is precisely the aim of the U.S. deployments in Lithuania. If a threat emerges, Lithuanian military would be the first line of defence of their home but U.S. support is critical for both, strengthening the NATO position in the eastern flank of Europe and for deterrence of adversarial forces.”
Troops of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, and the supporting unit, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, U.S. Army, have deployed from Fort Hood in Texas to replace the 1-66 U.S. Armor Battalion that served in Lithuania with organic equipment from June 2022. The 1-8 and 3-16 began the 9-month rotation in Lithuania with a live-fire exercise with their M1A2 Abrams tanks. The new rotation also operates the Bradley IFVs, M1068A3 SICPS, trucks, ATvs and other equipment necessary for the intense training and interoperability-building in Lithuania.
"Russia’s war in Ukraine demonstrates the strategic importance of the Allied presence on NATO’s eastern flank. This seventh consecutive heel-to-toe rotation of U.S. forces to Lithuania is a clear signal that the United States’ commitment to the NATO alliance is ironclad,” said U.S. Ambassador Robert Gilchrist.
U.S. Army units have been rotated to the Baltic states and Eastern Europe since spring 2014 as part of Atlantic Resolve, the U.S. Army’s operation in the eastern part of the Alliance. Last December the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius a announced that the United States was stepping up the military presence in the Baltic states and changing the U.S. force status in Lithuania to uninterrupted rotational presence. This is a U.S. demonstration of the collective defence commitment to NATO Allies in the face of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, as a strategic partner to Lithuania and one of the key Allies to the security in the Baltic region.
Photo credits: Alfredas Pliadis