1-68 AR Brings Armor to Estonia
(Source: US Army; issued Feb 06, 2017)
CAMP ADAZI, Latvia --- A fleet of M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1A2 Abrams tanks belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, arrived in Tapa, Estonia, Feb. 6, 2017. Soldiers assigned to Company C, 1-68 AR, gathered at the railhead to unload equipment as it arrived from Poland following initial reception and forward deployment.

With the completion of railhead operations, 1-68 AR has all personnel and equipment in place to immediately begin training with Estonian forces.

The Soldiers of 1-68 AR, based out of Fort Carson, Colo., are on a 9-month rotation in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led effort in Eastern Europe that demonstrates U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region.

"We look forward to learning their anti-tank and dismounted capabilities and then teaching them how we integrate our armor and dismounted infantry," said Capt. Edward Bachar, commander, C Co., 1-68 AR. "The other big thing we are looking forward to figuring out is how we will communicate and mutually support each other throughout the duration of our time here."

Successful railhead operations were completed with assistance from Estonian army movement control personnel and civilian rail assets.

"From what I've seen so far, they've been making our job extraordinarily easy and the support has been overwhelming," Bachar said. "I think that really shows their excitement for us to be here."

U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.


NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Formally Welcomed in Rukla
(Source: Lithuania Ministry of Defence; issued Feb 07, 2017)
On February 7 President of the Republic of Lithuania HE Dalia Grybauskaitė welcomed the first troops of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battalion battle group upon their deployment in Lithuania. The deployment of NATO eFP battalion in Lithuania follows an agreement by NATO allies to strengthen deterrence and collective defence in the Baltic region.

In her welcome address to German and other allies President underscored that it was a historical step being taken – deployment of NATO forward presence troops in Lithuania demonstrates Alliance solidarity and adds up to the security of Lithuanian people and the whole region.

President thanked Minister of Defence of Germany Ursula von der Leyen for the exceptional role Germany had taken up and its leadership in seeking security for Lithuania, the region, and the whole Europe.

“Today we have come together as NATO partners to reassure our strong commitment to the future of Lithuania. Never again will Lithuania stand alone The future of its people is protected by the greatest military alliance of our times Today Lithuania is as strong as the combined power of all 28 NATO member states Freedom and security are not a given, we will only be able to defend our democracies successfully if we stand together, and this is exactly what we are doing here today together under NATO's blue flag,” Minister of Defence of Germany, the framework nation leading the current rotation of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence battalion, said at the ceremony.

“Enhanced NATO military presence in Lithuania demonstrates a strong commitment of the Alliance to defend Allies and shared values alike: any action from the exterior would trigger an immediate response from the whole Alliance. The NATO eFP battalion is concrete deterrence that ensures the security of the entire region, that is why we will be making every effort to provide all training conditions for allied and Lithuanian forces and that they could be ready for deterrent and defensive actions if necessary,” Minister of National Defence R.Karoblis highlighted.

“From a military standpoint, it is a big advantage to have a fully-functioning NATO enhanced Forward Presence NATO unit, as well as the NATO Force Integration Unit and allied rotational units in our country. This makes us not only more interoperable but also more expeditious when responding to dynamic and unpredictable today's security threats,” Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas pointed out.

“Today we welcome the multinational German-led Battle Group to the NATO Force Structure here in Rukla, Lithuania,” said Commander NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum General Salvatore Farina who came to Lithuania to welcome the first of the four NATO eFP battle groups deployed in the Baltic states and Poland one behalf of the NATO Supreme Allied Commander. According to General, the NATO enhanced Forward Presence is intended to reinforce the North-East part of the Alliance and demonstrate the Alliance’s strength and deterrence showing NATO’s readiness and resolve to defend. “They are not just four battle groups, but the whole NATO. This multinationalism shows the Alliance’s unity and cohesion, and the willingness for nations to support each other, General Farina underscored.

A part of eFP troops from Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands already in Lithuania lined up for the formal welcome ceremony at the Lithuanian Great Hetman Jonušas Radvila Training Regiment. They were joined by the U.S. and Czech rotational troops deployed for training period in Lithuania, and soldiers representing different units of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

The NATO enhanced Forward Presence battalion battle group is deployed in Lithuania as agreed by the Heads of State and Governments at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016 in the context of the changed geopolitical situation and active Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Such battle groups are also deployed to enhance allied presence in the eastern flank of the Alliance in Estonia, Latvia and Poland as of 2017.

The NATO enhanced forward presence battalion in Lithuania will be led by Germany whose military personnel will also form the core of the battalion. In 2017-2018 the battalion will be manned by Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, and France, in total, roughly 1,200 soldiers.

At peacetime the NATO battalion will train together with Lithuanian forces, just like it will defend Lithuania alongside national forces and additionally deployed reinforcement in case of a crisis.


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