Allied troop increase in Lithuania could be 2-3 times higher, says Army Chief: “But numbers are not the point”

German PzH2000 shooting for the first time in Lithuania
German PzH2000 shooting for the first time in Lithuania: Photo KAM

Lithuanian Chief of Army Valdemaras Rupšys says that it is important for Lithuania to have the largest possible deterrent capability in the country. He also points out that the allied troop strength in the country “has already increased and may increase 2-3 times in the long term,” Andresa Repšytė writes in TV3.lt.

On Wednesday afternoon, President Gitanas Nausėda will meet with representatives of parliamentary parties on the strategic guidelines for Lithuania’s foreign, security and defence policy.

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V. Rupšys said that during this meeting, it is important to agree on what national defence is: whether it is only armed defence or the preparation of all the institutions and the whole state for a military conflict. “We need to agree on a strategy, make plans and prepare for the worst-case scenario. It seems to me that we have time to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”

V. Rupšys said that we also need to look at what kind of reserve troops Lithuania needs and how many are missing. According to him, this should be “synchronised with the armaments equipment, with infrastructure development”.

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“It is clear to see what kind of regular forces we should have, what kind of volunteer forces we should have, what kind of wartime structure of the armed forces should be. [Also] how much of that trained reserve must be there to fill the wartime structure. <…> Our plan is operational, and it is definitely feasible,” the Lithuanian Armed Forces Commander said.

He also added that the allied troop strength in Lithuania “has already increased and may grow 2-3 times in the long term”.

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“But the point is not the numbers. The point is in the capacity. <…> As an example, if our allied troops are deployed in Lithuania, it does not mean that they are always deployed in a state of readiness to fight. Before the conflict in Ukraine, it used to be the case that the unit would come here for training.

In order to be able to fight, it has to have other enabling elements or capabilities that enable it to fight. Both the Italian tank battalion and the IFP have all the means if they have to defend and deter,” he said.

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The lack of allied training facilities is evident, Rupšys said, which is why “we are moving to the balance of national defence training, its equipping and its functioning”: “I think that process will accelerate rapidly. It was foreseen that the national defence system would move to the balance of national defence in 2026-2027, and now I think we will start to train there.”

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