In the evening of April 28 Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas received a confirmation via phone call with Federal Minister of Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen that Germany is going to be in the lead of formation of a NATO battalion group for Lithuania.
“We highly appreciate Germany’s decision, this is a firm step on the way of solidarity which enhances our common security and has been achieved by coordinated efforts of all Lithuanian institutions. We have been working towards having a NATO battalion group deployed in Lithuania,” J.Olekas says.
The decisions regarding the presence of NATO battalion groups in Eastern Europe will be processed at the NATO Defence Ministers meeting in June, while the final decisions will be taken at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July.
As the NATO assurance measures in the Baltic region are enhanced, over 600-strong rotational German forces with several hundred of military vehicles will take part in joint training and exercises in Lithuania in several stages. Lithuania will provide full Host Nation Support to the deployed forces, i.e. lodging, catering, logistical support.
Lithuania and Germany have been partners in defence areas since signing the first bilateral cooperation agreement in 1994. The countries cooperate on combat training, and weaponry and equipment acquisition and maintenance.
Lithuanian and German military personnel constantly train in joint military exercises, the German Air Force has already provided six rotations of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission.
In 2015 Lithuanian and German Ministries of Defence signed an agreement on acquisition of PzH2000 self-propelled howitzers from Bundeswehr. On the basis of the agreement the Lithuanian Armed Forces will receive 21 unit of 155mm self-propelled howitzer. The first howitzers are expected to arrive as soon as this year and the remainder of the systems will be brought by 2019. As part of upgrading and enhancement process in the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Lithuania opened negotiations with Germany on procuring BOXER infantry fighting vehicles. The first vehicles are expected to be delivered to Lithuania as soon as 2017.
Since 1994, over 300 Lithuanian soldiers have graduated from various military education institutions, including the Bundeswehr Academy. Germany contributed to the development of military education system in Lithuania and sent expert-level assistance. German lecturers and students are involved in the activities of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian senior officers training institution, the Baltic Defence College. Since mid-2014 a Bundeswehr officer has been the Deputy Commandant of the Baltic Defence College.