On March 21 military equipment of the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces arrived in Lithuania via Klaipėda Seaport to be used by the German-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battalion Battlegroup in Lithuania (based in Rukla).
The brought equipment includes roughly 40 military vehicles, including CV 90 infantry fighting vehicles, Fennek reconnaissance vehicles, Boxer multirole vehicles, armoured recovery vehicles, etc.
The troops were welcomed at the seaport by Commander of the NATO eFP Battalion in Lithuania Lieutenant Colonel Chritoph Huber. He expressed delight about the excellent cooperation among German, Dutch and Belgian soldiers constituting the battlegroup and pointed out Lithuania’s hospitality to deploying troops.
The Dutch soldiers were welcomed to Lithuania by Ambassador of the Netherlands HE Bert van der Lingen, and representatives of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
Dutch equipment arriving via Klaipėda Seaport will be transported to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battlegroup in Rukla by the Belgian logistical support company.
On March 23 the main group of Dutch troops (roughly 100) will fly in via Šiauliai Air Base.
The deploying group is mainly formed by soldiers based in Havelte and serving with the 44th Mechanised Infantry Battalion, 43rd Mechanised Infantry Brigade, Royal Netherlands Army. They will be deployed in Lithuania until July, then troops with the 13th Brigade will rotate in. In total, 200 Dutch soldier swill train in Lithuania.
At the moment over 400 German soldiers, 100 Belgian soldiers, and a part of Dutch soldiers are already in Lithuania. Also, over 250 military vehicles have been brought to Rukla. The deployment of German force is nearly complete, while Norwegians will join the eFP Battlegroup in May.
In 2017-2018 the NATO enhanced forward presence battalion will be manned by Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, and France, in total, roughly 1,200 soldiers. Germany is the framework nation for the NATO eFP Battalion Battlegroup in Lithuania and provides the core strength of the unit.
At peacetime the NATO battalion will train together with Lithuanian forces in Lithuanian Armed Forces training areas, or it will defend Lithuania alongside national forces and additionally deployed reinforcement in case of a crisis or conflict.
The NATO battalion in Lithuania will be comprised on a headquarters and a headquarters company, logistic support company, and three-to-four combat companies, and different combat support units. The allied battlegroup will be reinforced when necessary (e.g., in case of a threat or exercises). The reinforcement is planned to deploy in summer 2017 when a large cycle of exercises is to take place in Lithuania.
The NATO Battalion Battlegroup is placed in subordination of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and led in accordance with NATO command and control procedures. The NATO eFP Battalion will rotate every six months.
Lithuania highly appreciates the efforts made by Germany and other allies to strengthen deterrence and collective defence in the Baltic region.
NATO enhanced Forward Presence in Lithuania is a clear signal of Alliance solidarity and resolve to defend NATO territory against any aggressor.
The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battlegroups are also deployed in Estonia, Latvia and Poland as agreed by the NATO Summit in the context of the changed geopolitical situation and active Russia’s actions in Ukraine. They will be headed by the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America. All the battlegroups will be fully deployed until June 2017.