Lithuanian–Polish–Ukrainian Brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG) is a multinational unit consisting of subunits from the Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Agreement on its creation was signed on the 19th of September 2014 in Warsaw. The Brigade was finally formed in the fall of 2015.
In an exclusive interview with Defence Blog Colonel Zenon Brzuszko, LITPOLUKRBRIG Commander, will explain role and mission of Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade.
- Our audience is about to be wandering how you have managed to establish and maintain functioning of the trilateral brigade and what the challenges you have faced?
Establishing of Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade is a part of continuous process of concise and long-term military cooperation between Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania. On the path from the announcement of the idea and to verification of the Full Operational Capabilities the multinational staff has overcome certain challenges concerning synchronization of procedures and decision making by Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian staff officers in particular and the Brigade components in general.
Precisely, in 2009 the Ministers of Defense of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine signed a letter of intent upon the establishment of a joint military unit. Later on, in 2011, in Lublin was established so called the Multinational Brigade (Polish part), which was the beginning of the trilateral unit.
Following, on 19 September 2014 year in Warsaw, Defense Ministers of Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland signed the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine concerning the establishment of a Common Military unit. It led to issuing the Technical Arrangement between the respective Defence Departments concerning the detailed aspects of functioning of the common military unit and its command, 24 July 2015.
In Lublin was established LITPOLUKRBRIG Headquarters manned by Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian military personnel. National components of affiliated units remained in the structures of their national defence structures and would support LITPOLUKRBRIG efforts and activities upon the request.
Initial Operational Capabilities were reported in January 2016. The Headquarters was joint by 65 Polish soldiers, 18 Ukrainian servicemen and 5 Lithuanian military members. Since, the intensive training period had begun, which finished with the Full Operations Capability achievement. We broke the personnel into the sections and cells to make sure the positions in key sections occupied by representatives of all nations-participants.
The comprehensive approach was taken toward developing new procedures and operational standards. Together Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian officers made their best to create all essential requirements from zero: there were issued LITPOLUKBRIG Directive, Command Concept, Command Training Concept covering Peace Establishment and Tactical Standard Operating Procedures for the Contingency Establishment. This piece of work was challenging, but the efforts of three nations were awarded with solid set of documents and beginning of functioning of the Brigade. All mentioned above has been tasted throughout battle staff trainings and exercises.
Frankly speaking, the path was not easy and the multinational staff faced some challenges and addressed the solutions. At first, this not a NATO unit and we have been developed and still developing necessary documentation in the combined Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian way. However, all the developments associated with NATO procedures and aim to be interoperable with Alliance operations. It’s difficult to utilize, but possible gratefully to self-commitment and professionalism of multinational staff officers.
On the way to the Full Operations Capability of LITPOLUKRBRIG Command, soldiers from Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine participated in such Ex as Brave Band, Brave Boss, Anakonda, Rapid Trident, Seven Stars, Maple Arch. Also, workshops and seminars by the Illinois National Guard and US Airborne Brigade were held. We accumulated experience, knowledge and tools to take and pass the Certification. As the final exam, Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade Command personnel and headquarters of the affiliated units took part in the Computer Assisted Command Post Exercise Common Challenge-16 held in the Land Forces Training Area Dęba, in the period of 08-16 of December 2016. It was the most significant undertaking for the Multinational Brigade so far and marked the year-long path for the Multinational Brigade to become COMBAT READY.
Minister of National Defence of Poland Antoni Macierewicz, Minister of National Defence of Lithuanian Raimundas Karoblis and the Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine Ihor Dolgov observed Common Challenge-16 Exercise and signed the Letter of Certification verifying the readiness of the trilateral command is in full compliance with NATO standards for a brigade headquarters.
Since this time, according to the Agreement signed by Executive Institutions, the Brigade becomes available, upon agreement of the general consent of all three countries, for the need of multinational operations led under UN Security Council mandate. Brave soldiers from Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine are ready to bring peace and security to those in need.
- What are the current tasks and what do you expect in the framework of cooperation with NATO and EU?
Current tasks of LITPOLUKRBRIG go along with sustainment of the operational readiness throughout workshops, trainings and exercises. After achieving Full Operational Capabilities our Brigade will continue training in order to keep the level and improve the acquired abilities. For that reason Yearly Training Plan for 2017 was developed. It describes all aspects of the ongoing training process in LITPOLUKRBRIG in 2017. This year Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian officers will focus on improvement of the staff decision making, command, control, and interoperability capabilities. It will allow performing as Brigade’s staff in accordance with LITPOLUKRBRIG Combined Joint Statement of Requirements of the Multinational Brigade’s Command.
Hence, LITPOLUKRBRIG plans to participate in multinational exercises and trainings and keep cooperating with other organizations like ILNG, USAEUR, CAN A, SEEBRIG in order to hone the brigade’s staff skills and knowledge concerning EU-led military Crisis Management Operations and NATO non Article 5 Crisis Response Operations.
In the framework of the individual training the personnel will take about 85 lectures ranging from LoAC (Law of Armed Conflicts) to execution of CRO (Crisis Response Operations). Also, staff officers are required to complete a number of NATO online distributed courses.
The collective training will be built up on two brigade’s battle staff trainings in February and October and conducting Maple Arch 17 Exercise. In particular, there will be two primar training audiences – Polish 5th Mechanized Battalion and Ukrainian Airborne Assault Battalion. On this occasion I would like to express my gratitude to our Canadian allies for supporting our Ukrainian friends in transformation of their army.
Meanwhile, we will contribute our participation to other training activities. Our officers will participate in the multinational exercises Rapid Trident 17 in Ukraine and Saber Guardian 17 in Bulgaria led by USAEUR (US Army Europe).
As it might be well seen, within LITPOLUKRBRIG mandate we conduct our activities and build cooperation with available NATO and EU entities on the level of our responsibility. It contributes to growth of professionalism of the soldiers and creates mutual trust and interoperability among the forces.
- Would you possibly respond to a natural disaster upon a request of the third countries?
LITPOLUKRBRIG Command personnel has received a specific training to respond and lead affiliated units through Crisis-response and Humanitarian assistance operations. Natural disaster threats and possible response are covered by Support of Humanitarian Operations and included in NATO non – Article 5 Crisis Response Operations.
Hence, as defined in the mentioned above cross-governmental Agreement the LITPOLUKR Brigade’s Command should be available to take part in international operations on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution. In reference to that, the LITPOLUKRBRIG is capable to participate in EU-led military Crisis Management Operations (CMOs) and NATO non – Article 5 military operations.
- How participation in LITPOLUKRBRIG project might contribute to modernization and development of national military components of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine?
The Multinational Brigade aims to contribute to improvement of the regional security in Eastern Europe by deep military cooperation and enforcement of interoperability of Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian Armed Forces. We are here to demonstrate our cohesion. We work together, we train together and we perform our duties under one command.
Up to now there are many advantages for LITPOLUKRBRIG HQ and affiliated units development from the prospective of sharing of experience. Polish soldiers bring their knowledge, technics and tools from deployments to Afghanistan and Kosovo. All five Lithuanians contribute their unique tactics from similar operations in Balkans and Middle East. In turn, 18 Ukrainians share their fresh, up to date experience responding hybrid threats in Donbass.
Such approach allows us to take a broad look at training scenarios and come to asymmetric conclusions leading to the successful decisions.
Besides, LITPOLUKRBRIG Projects brings Ukraine closer to NATO structure and facilitates to embrace and implement the NATO standards in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. For Poland and Lithuania LITPOLUKRBRIG it becomes a good opportunity to exercise procedures, test interoperability and support Ukraine in its straggling in building modern defence capabilities.
- Might the Brigade or its elements be activated and engaged for any mission in Ukraine under EU or OCSE lead?
Due to the political nature of the answer on this question, we should refer to the official document. As it was explained earlier, according to the Agreement the Brigade or its elements shall be available for international Operations conducted on the basis of a mandate of the United Nations Security Council. Participations of the Brigade or its elements in the Operations shall take place exclusively on the basis of the decisions made by the component authorities of the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Poland and Ukraine. The Contribution of forces to the Brigade shall be without prejudice to each state’s internal right to make decision on whether to deploy its forces to specific operation.
On the cross-governmental level exists an idea to employ LITPOLUKRBRIG Command for a training mission in Ukraine. As the Brigade Command we have developed capabilities to organize and run an intensive training for military headquarters on the battalion and brigade levels.
Before LITPOLUKRBRIG activation for any mission or operation our job remains to sustain our operational capabilities and tightening military bonds. As it reflected in the LITPOLUKRBRIG slogan: “We are united for Peace.”
Visit litpolukrbrig.wp.mil.pl for more information