Lithuanian, U.S. and NATO Battalion troops hold exercises at the new firing range in Pabradė near the border with Belarus, according to the statement of the Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania.
“Implementation of infrastructure development projects in Lithuanian military training areas takes us to a qualitatively and quantitatively new training level for Lithuanian troops alongside our allies. Provision of such training conditions supports presence of our strategic ally, U.S. forces and thus improves deterrence and collective defence capabilities,” Vice Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said on September 20 at an event to observe U.S. and Lithuanian troops on joint training at Gen Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area in Pabradė. A heavy weaponry firing range suitable also for tanks to fire inert ammunition was set up here in the end of summer.
Minister R. Karoblis stressed that the refurbishment increased readiness of the training allies as well as their interoperability with Lithuanian troops.
“This training event represents the culmination of efforts that include the completion of the multiple purpose range complex, deployment of a rotational armored unit exercising military mobility, and a live fire training event that demonstrates the United States’ commitment to our Lithuanian Allies and the NATO Alliance. These types of events enhance interoperability throughout the alliance, help improve cross border military mobility, and develop our forces’ readiness. Part of the range in which Lithuanians, Germans, Dutch, Belgium, and American soldiers are using today was funded through the European Reassurance Initiative and will be used in the future by the Lithuanian Armed Forces and other NATO nations. We would like to thank our hosts, the Lithuanian Armed Forces, they have provided outstanding support to the United States Army rotational unit,” Ambassador of the United States HE Anne Hall said thanking for excellent hosting of the U.S. rotational force in Lithuania.
The training event at Gen S. Žukauskas Training Area was conducted by soldiers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army, Iron Wolf Brigade of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, and NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group. Live fire exercise at the new firing range involved M1 Abrams main battle tanks and Bradley armoured personnel carriers of the U.S. Army. Soldiers of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion will also provide heavy mortar fire support to the infantry company of the U.S. Army in this exercise.
The exercise was also observed by Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas, representatives of the Ministry of National Defence, commanders of Armed Forces services, representatives of foreign countries’ embassies, and other guests.
Infrastructure development project at Gen Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area is a continuous project launched in 2014. Apart from the heavy weaponry training range it also has infrastructure for light infantry arms firing, combat vehicle, artillery and aircraft target areas. Infrastructure for equipment, gear and ammunition storage is being set up too. Infrastructure for combat vehicles and maintenance is expected to be finished by the end of the as well.
Once the projects are completed, Gen Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area will be the only military site in Lithuania suitable for hosting a n up to a brigade-sized military unit – several thousands of soldiers an hundreds of combat vehicles. Full logistical support to military units of such size training in the rea would be provided too.
As Lithuania’s combat training infrastructure is improved, other military training areas and their surrounding territories are expanded, their infrastructure refurbished, new training fields are set up to match the needs of currently procured weaponry. Infrastructure development is planned for five training areas, however, the main focus is on two objects of state importance – Gen S. Žukauskas Training Area and Gaižiūnai Training Area.
Various infrastructure development projects are planned to be completed at Lithuanian Armed Forces military training areas in stages until 2022.
The projects are financed not only from national funds but also in equal parts from the NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP) and the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) and the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI). Countries forming the NATO eFP in Lithuania are also contributing financially.
Implementation of development projects in Lithuanian military training areas is aimed at providing appropriate training conditions for both, Lithuanian and allied forces. The objective is to have two main training area of Lithuania in Pabradė and in Rukla fully ready and in line with NATO standards for military raining until 2022.