US presence in Lithuania is a message that we are not alone, defence minister says

The guest thanked Lithuania for the contribution in Afghanistan and the firm resolve to continue US interest in in international operations. “Lithuania is an excellent example that equal means of Alliance response should be applied to all the threats, be it on the north or on the east, be it a threat of terrorism, or a threat from aggressive Russia’s posture,” Congressman Thornberry said. He also welcomed Lithuania’s support to Ukraine.

In his turn Olekas expressed support to the coalition-led fight with terrorism in Iraq. Lithuania will contribute through humanitarian aid of medical supplies and is also ready to contribute to training Iraqi forces by deploying military instructors. Lithuania is ready to continue participation in Afghanistan and other regions side by side with the United States.

Olekas also underlined the importance of the U.S. reassurance measures for Lithuania’s security and every single person. “The European Security Initiative and Operation Atlantic Resolve is a particularly visible US presence in Lithuania and a message that we are not on our own. Thank you to the United States, our strategic ally, for that,” Minister Olekas said.

Minister Olekas informed the US congressmen on Lithuania’s steps for enhancing national defence – the increase in defence spending, reinstatement of draft to the end of manning the Lithuanian Armed Forces, establishment of the national rapid response capabilities, modernisation of the Armed Forces, and practical defence cooperation in the region, primarily with Poland and the Baltic countries.

Minister Olekas also stated that Lithuania was fully prepared to render all the Host Nation Support necessary for deployment of US forces in Lithuania.

After the Russian annexation of the Crimea the United States was the first ally to launch measures for strengthening the Baltic States‘ security. The country deployed soldiers and air assets for augmenting the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, and sent rotating US contingents to maintain a persistent military presence in the Baltic States and Poland.

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