US will maintain long-term military presence in Lithuania, ambassador reassures

Juozas Olekas met with US Ambassador Deborah A. McCarthy
G. Maksimovicz nuotr.

Minister Olekas expressed his appreciation for the plans of the long-term US military presence in Lithuania and the region reiterated by Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter during the minister’s visit in the US. In her turn, Ambassador McCarthy reiterated the US commitment to maintain the level of the rotational US forces in Lithuania and to pre-position military equipment and vehicles for exercises and training in Lithuania, and to implement other assurance measures.

“We will seek to have the rotational NATO forces in our region to be upgraded to the size of a brigade, or a battalion per each of the Baltic States,” Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas said. The minister also stated that the long-term, continuing presence of NATO forces and pre-positioning of weaponry and vehicles is the most efficient NATO assurance measures.

“With all necessary US decisions in place, we now can continue the implementation of a successful rotational presence, active US involvement in training and exercises, prepositioning of military equipment and vehicles, investment into infrastructure projects and enhancement of the aforementioned measures,” Deborah A. McCarthy said.

The US ambassador thanked Lithuania for the commitment in Afghanistan. With the importance of maintaining forces in Afghanistan in mind and given there is a consent from the Parliament, Lithuania would be prepared to step up its presence in the country.

The minister and the US ambassador discussed the importance and priorities of the assistance to Ukraine. Lithuania support Ukraine with an aim of bringing the Ukrainian military forces in line with NATO standards, while the joint Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG) will begin training next year.

The ambassador welcomed Lithuania’s approach to defence: the increase of defence budget, the successful cooperation in hosting US forces and finding practical solutions regarding the Host Nation Support, etc.

“I would like to assert you that we are ready to work together to implement the US decisions as efficiently and successfully as possible and to make them mutually beneficial. We are firmly determined to observe the commitment to continue enhancing the Host Nation Support, to invest into the infrastructure for and conditions of combat training. That is a very important priority for the National Defence System as a whole and for me personally,” the minister said.

The US ambassador also once again asserted that the United States continue appointing officers to the NATO Force Integration Unit in Lithuania (NFIU) in Lithuania next year.

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