On June 28 Ministers of Defence and Chiefs of Defence of the United Kingdom-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) were all gathered together for the first time to mark the first anniversary of the JEF in Klaipėda in an unprecedented format.
Established at the NATO Summit in 2014, the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force reached Full Operational Capability last year with the signature of the Comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding in London and announcement of the reached capability. Today the high-readiness rapid response force comprising 10 thousand troops can be activated to respond to emergencies in Europe and beyond any time necessary. The JEF can be deployed independently or in support of international frameworks, including NATO, UN, EU, and the Northern Group.
Chiefs of Defence and the Defence Ministers agreed in Klaipėda that key attention at the moment is given to the Baltic Sea region through continued exercise organisation and participation in exercises, synchronisation of plans, and engagement of forces in practical activities. It has also been agreed that JEF units will be declared for the NATO Readiness Initiative and thus contribute to a stronger collective defence.
“This meeting is an excellent example of our solidarity and unity. We are particularly happy that it is held specifically in Lithuania. The Joint Expeditionary Force is a one more instrument of deterrence and defence contributing to the enhancement of security of Lithuania and the entire Baltic Sea region,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said at the joint press conference with the Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom Penny Mordaunt.
Minister of National Defence underscored that multinational deployment Baltic Protector of the JEF currently running in the Baltic Sea and training the assigned personnel to defence the Baltic states, sends a strong strategic message not only with its name but also with the complexity and the location of the deployment.
“We are sending a clear message to our adversaries outside our countries,” R. Karoblis said. “We mean to show that we have ways to counter security challenges. This force is yet another rapid response instrument that we have for countering emerging threats.”
Approximately 3 thousand soldiers and 17 vessels from all the nine UK-led JEF nations, UK, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Sweden, have been honing interoperability to prepare the Joint Expeditionary Force to respond to emergencies since the end of May in the Baltic Sea.
Lithuania is contributing a company sized unit to the JEF and a military medic assigned to the UK field hospital. One Lithuanian officer has been serving in the JEF operational headquarters in Northwood, United Kingdom, since early 2016.
The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania gave a mandate for the Lithuanian Armed Forces to take part in military operations as part of the NATO Response Force, European Union Battle Groups, and the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, therefore, once there is a political decision, there is also the legal basis to deploy our soldiers at short notice and ensure crisis management.