Exercise Schneller Degen organized by the Bundeswehr in Lithuania was opened in Pabradė last week: it for the first time actually deployed to Lithuania a division headquarters with the headquarters of its subordinate brigades to respond to hybrid and high-intensity threats. The exercise trains to redeploy headquarters and command elements into the NATO forward region within minimum time with an aim to enhance interoperability and cooperation of allies in the conduct of joint defensive operations. On June 21 Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas and Chief of Defence Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys attended Schneller Degen Distinguished Visitors Day.
According to Minister A. Anušauskas, the German engagement in the efforts to strengthen the defence of NATO and Lithuania, as well as its long-term approach revealed, among other things, by German investments into the military infrastructure used by Lithuanian and allied forces, are particularly important in this context.
“As a NATO security guarantor, Germany is here for a long stay – we can see it not only because of the number of German troops training in Lithuania and leadership for the NATO enhanced Forward Presence in Rukla, but also from German investment into military development,” Lithuanian Minister of National Defence A. Anušauskas says.
Germany has been investing in infrastructure enhancement in Lithuania since 2018, as a NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group was deployed in Lithuania in 2017 in the wake of new threats to regional security. Since then, the Federal Ministry of Defence has provided full or partial financing for completion of such projects as welfare and leisure areas for soldiers, temporary housing infrastructure, medical care station, temporary logistical service ground in Rukla, ammunition ground in Pabradė, financial aid in procuring target lifters.
“Germany and the host nation are together executing in Lithuania what is the foundation of NATO solidarity, the Alliance defence. That is what distinguishes the mission in Lithuania from all the other foreign operations conducted by our Bundeswehr. That means that our soldiers here, in Lithuania, are ultimately defending our own freedom and democracy. This is how Germany’s investment in military infrastructure in Lithuania also meets its own interest, as well as that of Lithuania and the entire Alliance. Our motto goes: we build security. We do it together. As NATO,” says Ambassador of Germany to Lithuania HE Matthias Sonn.
One of the largest projects planned to be completed by 2023 will provide for the needs of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Rukla – equipment and vehicles, maintenance and storage infrastructure; its worth is approx. 40 million euros. A new security post, administrative building, warehouses of different purposes, repair facility, etc., will be built.
“To date, Germany has already invested a considerable sum into Lithuania’s military infrastructure development. However, it is an ongoing process and investing will continue. Germany’s long-term approach to strengthening our national defence is also seen in the agreement that Germany and Lithuania ratified back in spring on temporary stay of troops of armed forces of Germany and Lithuania deployed in each other’s territories, that sends strong messages of cooperation and deterrence as well,” says A. Anušauskas.
In June, earlier this year, the Federal Ministry of Defence confirmed that it would invest in mutual infrastructure in Rukla together with the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Germany plans allocating approx. EUR 150 million for barracks, a multipurpose facility, mess hall, training premises, sports grounds, and other infrastructure. The design part of the project is planned to begin in 2022.