First unit to Lithuania

Oberviechtach, 18 January 2017

The first members of the NATO Battlegroup arrive in Lithuania at the end of January. Around 460 German soldiers form part of the unit, most of them provided by 122 Mechanised Infantry Battalion from Oberviechtach, Bavaria.

Foto 1 Bundeswehr - Erster Verband nach Litauen Bild vergrößern (© Bundeswehr/ Dorow) The core of the multinational Battlegroup will consist of a German headquarters and service company, one German and one Dutch mechanised infantry company, an enhanced Norwegian mechanised infantry company and a multilateral logistics component. The Battlegroup will also be led by a multinational staff. Additional troops can support the Battlegroup for limited periods as and when required. Engineering, artillery, air defence, reconnaissance and NBC-defence specialists can be deployed to Lithuania temporarily for training and exercise purposes.

Core unit from Oberviechtach

The core of the German component consists of soldiers from 122 Mechanised Infantry Battalion. The Oberviechtach Mechanised Infantry Battalion is joined by soldiers of 4 Logistic Support Battalion from Roding, 4 Armoured Engineer Battalion from Bogen and 131 Artillery Battalion from Weiden as well as 104 Tank Battalion from Pfreimd and medical support personnel.

The unit is well prepared and already familiar with the deployment area thanks to several fact-finding missions. It will travel to Lithuania with all of its equipment and combat vehicles, including the associated ammunition.

Demonstrating resolve

The soldiers on the ground are intended, in collaboration with the three other Battlegroups in Latvia, Estonia and Poland, to demonstrate the NATO members’ mutual solidarity, support and resolve. Consisting chiefly of combat troops, the Battlegroups are fully trained and will bring their own vehicles and weapons with them to the host countries. This robust presence is primarily intended to act as a deterrent and as a clear sign that NATO is ready and willing to support its members in the context of collective defence.

Creating the right conditions

Rather than being permanently stationed, the personnel will be rotated after a set amount of time. The German soldiers will be in Lithuania for around four to six months. They will be accommodated in a barracks belonging to the Lithuanian armed forces near the small town of Rukla, about 100km from the capital city, Vilnius. The infrastructure on the ground will be developed for the Bundeswehr soldiers and their equipment over the coming months. A technical area will be established, for example, to which tracked and wheeled vehicles can be brought for parking, refuelling, maintenance and repair.

Lots of common ground

The Bundeswehr has come to know the host country, Lithuania, very well. Several joint exercises have been held in the most southerly of the three Baltic states in recent years. Joint training and Lithuanian support are made even easier by the fact that the Lithuanian armed forces possess such items of major equipment as PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers and GTK Boxer armoured transport vehicles.

This article is a translation of Anika Wenzel's article published on www.bundeswehr.de