Minister of National Defence R. Karoblis met with acting U.S. Secretary of Defence Christopher C. Miller.
“The U.S. is the principal transatlantic Lithuania’s ally whose part in the efforts to strengthen deterrence and defence in the entire region are indispensable. I welcome the bilateral Lithuanian-U.S. cooperation that has intensified in the recent years, we will continue seeking more U.S. involvement in the efforts to strengthen the security of the eastern border of NATO,” acting Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said at a bilateral meeting in Washington with acting U.S. Secretary of Defence Christopher C. Miller.
R. Karoblis underscored that presence of U.S. troops alongside other NATO forces strengthen the security of the entire eastern flank of NATO, therefore Lithuania is developing every condition required for allied rotations to deploy in Lithuania.
At the moment there is the second rotational U.S. battalion deployed in Lithuania for training and exercises. “We wish the United States to consider Lithuania for a permanent deployment of forces so we are investing in infrastructure in order to create facilities for the deployment. We are prepared to host U.S. forces and provide every opportunity for them to carry out training and implement their tasks, R. Karoblis said at the meeting. According to Minister, joint training f Lithuanian and U.S. soldiers in Lithuania also facilitates interaction with allied forces.
The acting U.S. head of defence praised Lithuania’s fulfilment of financial commitments and pointed out that “2% of GDP should be the floor, not the ceiling”. He was also interested in Lithuania’s stand on the threat of Russia and underscored the strength and lasting fashion of the U.S. defence and deterrence commitments. C. Miller stressed that it was necessary to also invest in non-conventional capabilities and increase cooperation in cybersecurity, and thanked for Lithuania’s effort in developing a regional cyber defence centre.
Following the bilateral meeting in Washington both sides signed the Black Hawk platform procurement contract. The Lithuanian Armed Forces will procure four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters with additional equipment, spares, and a training, repair and logistical support package. “It is unmistakably a historical purchase: we are dropping the legacy Mi-8 platform and entering a brand-new phase of the Lithuanian Air Force, in step with U.S. and other most advanced NATO allies’ militaries,” R. Karoblis said.
During the formal visit to Washington Minister also met with other high-ranking representatives of the U.S. Department of Defence – Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett and representatives of the Congress with whom regional defence and deterrence, defence cooperation was addressed. Secretary of the U.S. Army Ryan D. McCarthy stressed at the meeting with Minister R. Karoblis the substantial attention the U.S. was paying to the security of the Baltic region which was also clearly demonstrated by the transfer of the V Corps Headquarter (Forward) to Poland and the rotating U.S battalion training in Lithuania.
The United States is Lithuania’s strategic partner and key ally for the security of the Baltic region. The two countries cooperate across different areas, develop joint projects of weaponry procurement (e.g., Lithuania has been buying Javelin anti-tank systems from the U.S. for many years, last year Lithuania and the U.S. Government signed a contract on procurement 200 units of U.S.-made Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, etc.).
The countries also have a particularly intense cooperation in military training and other areas, U.S. force rotations for training in Lithuania are becoming more frequent, Lithuania Is also fostering wide-ranging relations with the U.S. in cyber-security and other areas.
The United States makes significant investments in adaptation of Lithuanian military areas to military needs as part of security assistance programmes. Several projects have been already completed on U.S. funds at Pabradė, Rukla, Kazlų Rūda, such as firing ranges, maintenance capability, other training and area upkeep infrastructure. Lithuania is expanding training areas and improving infrastructure on its behalf as well, e.g., the new railhead of Pabradė-Pažeimenė railway line opened in spring this year improved conditions of deploying military vehicles and equipment of NATO allies. It was first tested out for redeploying military equipment by an outgoing U.S. rotation.