Lithuania to host more NATO exercises, chief of defence says

Major General Jonas Vytautas Žukas (right) and Defence Minister Juozas Olekas
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

“In the framework of the decisions made at the summit meeting, we will continue increasing the number of NATO exercises in Lithuania,” the general told Vilnius journalists.

In his words, Lithuania has notified NATO leadership about its plans to invite soldiers from other NATO member-states to its national war games, with agreement already reached on 2015 participation of Belgian, Danish, German and Portuguese troops.

Currently, companies of US and Hungarian soldiers are deployed in Lithuania, in addition to a Danish company arriving on Wednesday for a month-long training.

Speaking at a news conference held for the upcoming Lithuanian Army Day, Žukas said that the Armed Forces will pursue the following three goals: improve its readiness, assemble military units and improve the combat training of troops.

As to the plans to improve the readiness, the general spoke about the national Response Force, which was put on duty in November. It includes 1,600 soldiers ready to respond within 2-24 hours. An exercise of the force’s operational control centre is scheduled for next week, and the force should have a training in firing grounds next May.

In 2015, the Lithuanian Armed Forces should be supplemented with 450 troops of professional military service, with the majority of them to be distributed among battalions of Land Forces.

Plans to improve combat training include enlargement of firing grounds and adjustment of exercise scenarios. Žukas also pledged that the Armed Forces will be more active in cooperation with the State Border Guard Service, the Public Security Service, the VIP Protection Department and the Riflemen’s Union.

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