On the 9th of June, the General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area of the Lithuanian Armed Forces (Pabradės eldership) hosted a change of battalions ceremony of the United States of America (USA) rotational forces in Lithuania – from Thursday, the 1-66th Battalion of the USA rotational forces, commanded by the Col. Lt. Paul G. Lockhart.
The ceremony was attended by the Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Lt. Gen. V. Rupšys, Deputy Minister of National Defence Vilius Semeška, US Ambassador to Lithuania Robert S. Gilchrist and other guests.
“The Lithuanian Armed Forces will always be the first to defend our home. However, if my country is attacked one day, I am confident that you and thousands of other allied troops will be by our side. And we appreciate that,” said the Lithuanian Armed Forces Commander.
The 1st Battalion, 66th Armoured Regiment (1-66), 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, US Army, arrived from Fort Carson, Colorado, replacing the US Heavy Battalion, 3-66, and the equipment it brought with it at the beginning of its rotation. The new tank battalion will begin joint military training with Lithuanian troops and allies with the full rotational shift change.
The new shift’s heavy military equipment arrived in Lithuania on the 26th of May via the European railway to Kaunas Intermodal Terminal (the first time on European railways). It was redeployed by road to the General Silvestras Žukauskas training ground in Pabradė from the 26th to the 29th. The new US rotational force arrived in Lithuania with M1A2 Abrams tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, M1068A3 armoured personnel carriers, trucks, all-terrain vehicles and other military equipment necessary for the execution of their tasks.
The US Army troops have been rotating in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe since spring 2014 as part of the US Army’s operation in the eastern part of the Alliance, Atlantic Resolve. In this way, the US is demonstrating its collective defence commitment to its NATO allies by providing security in the wake of Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine.