According to the Minister, the establishment of the unit is one of the most significant steps in terms of strengthening NATO collective defence taken over several past decades.
The key mission of the NFIU is to prepare for and then facilitate if needed the rapid deployment of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), whose leading elements are ready to deploy to the conflict area within 48 hours.
The Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas underscored the practical meaning of the NFIU for the enhancement of defence of Lithuania and the wider region. He also underlined that the NFIU Lithuania would facilitate integration and coordination of NATO forces’ activities in Lithuania.
“In military terms the NFIU will ensure a better liaison with higher NATO commands, help us provide a superior and quicker Host Nation Support for allied forces, and facilitate their integration into the readiness for collective national defence and its implementation,” the Lithuanian Chief of Defence said.
The establishment of these six NFIUs in six Allies, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, was agreed by NATO Heads of State and Government at the Wales Summit in 2014. NATO will take further steps at the Warsaw Summit and beyond. All the six NFIUs were officially activated on Monday, 1 September.
President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg inaugurated the NFIU Lithuania at a formal ceremony on 3 September.
All the six NFIUs are planned to reach full operational capability ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw in 2016.
Activation of the NFIUs is part of NATO’s fundamental adaptation in the face of security challenges from the east and the south.
NATO Force Integration Units are small command and control headquarters whose key mission is to facilitate the rapid deployment of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and additional rapid response elements into the region if needed.
The NFIUs will have a key role in planning, exercising, and assisting potential reinforcements, providing a vital link between national forces and multinational NATO forces.
The NFIU in Lithuania will operate as an intermediate unit facilitating interoperability among national and the region-deployed allied forces. It will also contribute to enhance allied training and exercises, and liaison with NATO’s operational commands.
Staff at the NFIU will cooperate with national forces to identify traffic junctions, key logistical and other necessary infrastructure in the country which will facilitate the quickest possible redeployment of NATO’s response forces into the Baltic region.
The NFIU in Vilnius will comprise roughly 40 military personnel, half of which will be provided by other allied nations. The international staff will comprise representatives from more than 10 NATO member states.
The NFIU in Lithuania is under command of Colonel (Danish Army) Jakob Søgård Larsen. Lieutenant Colonel (Lithuanian Land Force) Mindaugas Petkevičius is acting as second in command.