The announcement of the formation of the new brigade comes on the heels of a number of new military materiel acquisitions made by Lithuanian government in response to geopolitical tensions and the situation in Ukraine. These have included U.S-made Javelin anti-tank missiles and German-made Boxer armored combat vehicles.
“We understand that, in the face of potential threats, we simply wouldn’t have the time to form new military units, so we are trying to make the existing peace-time military structure more similar to the wartime structure on which Lithuania’s defence plans are based. The formation of the second motorized infantry brigade in Western Lithuania is another step towards ensuring the strength of our country’s defensive capabilities,” said Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas, the leader of the Lithuanian military.
The Lithuanian Land forces‘ second brigade was formed due to a decision by the Seimas (parliament) at the suggestion of the National Defensive Council. The new brigade’s leadership will be based in Klaipėda. It will include, among others, two existing Land Force battalions: the Grand Duke Butigeidis dragoon battalion, based in Klaipėda, and the Grand Duke Kęstutis mechanized infantry brigade in Tauragė.
Throughout 2016, there are plans to supplement the brigade with logistical, reconnaissance and communications companies that will be under its command. In 2017, two more new battalions will be formed as well – one artillery and one infantry battalion. Their orders will be the same as those given to the rest of the currently operational Iron Wold brigades – to secure and defend Lithuania’s land territory and to execute defensive or offensive orders.
The new brigade will primarily be formed from soldiers that are part of the Continuous Mandatory Initial Military Service. Officers and other more highly-qualified personnel will be assigned from the professional military service.
The brigade’s name, Žemaitija, refers to the western region of Lithuania. The name is a nod to the people of the region, who have a reputation for being stubborn and having a fighting spirit. A motorised infantry brigade of the same name operated in Lithuania from 1999 until 2004, but it was incorporated into the Western military district in 2002 and dissolved in 2004.
The formation of the Žemaitija motorised infantry brigade should be completed in 2021.