“Belgium’s joining the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion in Lithuania is probably the most pronounced defence cooperation event of Lithuania and Belgium from historical perspective. It demonstrates Belgium’s understanding of the threats and security challenges in our region,” Minister Raimundas Karoblis said at a meeting with Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Belgium Steven Vandeput in Vilnius on November 24.
“Security threats in the Balti states are not diminishing, therefore continuity of NATO deterrence measures in the region has to be ensured,” Minister S.Vandeput said at the meeting and assured that Belgium would continue deploying troops the following year (100 of Belgian troops are serving in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion in Lithuania this year). Belgium’s Defence Minister thanked Lithuania for the Host Nation Support and excellent conditions for Belgian presence in Lithuania.
At the bilateral meeting the Ministers also discussed the possibility for Belgium to strengthen the present deterrence measures not only with land but also with air and maritime capabilities.
Belgium’s representatives were interested to hear Lithuania’s estimation of the most recent Russian-Belarusian military exercise Zapad 2017, the Ministers discussed the results of the NATO Defence Ministers meeting that took place two weeks ago and further work in preparation for the NATO Summit of July 2018, also, the European initiatives for strengthening the Common Security and Defence Policy, as well as bilateral Lithuanian-Belgian defence cooperation.
The Belgian Defence Minister was accompanied by a Members of Parliament delegation on his visit in Lithuania. Security situation in the region, Lithuania’s efforts to strengthen defence and measures of countering propaganda were presented to the delegation.
After the meetings at the Ministry of National Defence the Belgian delegation with Minister R. Karoblis and the Lithuanian Armed Forces leadership will visit Rukla to meet with Belgian soldiers serving as part of the German-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group.
Roughly 100 soldiers of the 29th Logistics Battalion, Belgian Land Component, have been serving since the beginning of the year in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group deployed in Lithuania for deterrence and defence. The Belgian troops form the core of the logistical company of the multinational battalion, they carry out logistical support assignments, support unit redeployment operations. The Belgian soldiers deployed in Lithuania with logistical equipment: trucks, towing vehicles and other equipment necessary for providing mobility for the entire multinational battle group.
The Kingdom of Belgium has been consistently supporting Lithuania’s efforts to strengthen its defence since NATO accession, the country is actively contributing to the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states. Since the Baltic states joined NATO in 2004, the Belgian Air Component was the first air force to guard the Baltic airspace. It was succeeded by four more rotations completed from Šiauliai and Amari in Estonia. Belgian soldiers are conducting the NATO Air Policing Mission from Amari at present. An the sixth rotation of the Belgian Air Component in Lithuania is expected next year.
Since the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in spring 2014, soldiers of the Belgian Land Component were sent to Lithuania and practised joint actions in the Lithuanian Armed Forces’ military training areas. Belgium has deployed soldiers and equipment to multinational military exercises in Lithuania numerous times.