For the first time in history, Slovakia is set to deploy an artillery unit along with its artillery systems abroad. Specifically, this concerns artillerymen of the Self-propelled Artillery Battalion Michalovce, who will be operating the Zuzana Self-propelled Gun Howitzer (SpGH), the Aligator Forward Observation Artillery Vehicle (AFOV), and other special purpose and support equipment on the deployment.
As part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the Baltic States, they will be tasked to deliver indirect fire support to the NATO eFP BG Latvia.
Speaking about the SVK deployment to Latvia, Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď said: “In the coming days an artillery unit will take over from our Mechanised Company in the Baltics and what is of importance is that our artillery systems will be deployed for the first time. For our service personnel, this is a unique opportunity to reaffirm the qualities of the Slovak Armed Forces and contribute to enhancing cooperation, collective defence and the solidarity of Allies.
“I keep my fingers crossed for them and I wish them every success in accomplishing a great many missions.” He went on to make it clear that NATO’s eFP across the Baltic States is not an offensive operation, but it is training and defensive in nature.
A total of 130 SVK military personnel will be deployed on Ādaži Training Area as part of the SVK task force dubbed “General Korda”, integrating with another eight NATO member countries: Canada, Czechia, Slovenia, Spain, Poland, Italy, Montenegro and Albania.
NATO’s eFP in the Baltics came into existence in response to the changes in the security environment, new security threats and the developments in Ukraine. It primarily aims to strengthen NATO’s presence in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. Slovakia and its Armed Forces have been part of this operation since 2018. The mandate for the SVK deployment has been approved and extended to last until the end of the operation.