Soldiers of the Czech Republic will join the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (NATO eFP) deployed in Lithuania for deterrence and defence as of July 17. Roughly 250 Czech troops will be serving with the NATO eFP stationed in Rukla.
“Deployment of Czech forces to Lithuania demonstrates the country’s firm support and NATO solidarity in ensuring security of Lithuania and the Baltic Region. The active allies’ participation in the NATO eFP in the Baltic states and Poland sends a clear signal that the Alliance is strong, united, and ready to respond to any threat,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says.
The Czech contingent deploying in Lithuania is formed by many different units of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic but the core is provided by the 41th Mechanised Infantry Battalion stationed in the northeastern part of the country. The contingent will deploy with Pandur-II Infantry Fighting Vehicles equipped with 30 mm cannons and Spike anti-armour missiles.
The Czech contingent is deployed in Lithuania by decision of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic with their mission approved to run as part of the NATO eFP Lithuania until December 2020.
It is not the first time Czech soldiers are deployed in Lithuania. In 2017 roughly 150 soldiers from the 7th Brigade of the Czech Republic were training together with Lithuanian and allied colleagues for four months as part of NATO’s Assurance Measures launched in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe after the Russian aggression in Ukraine of 2014.
In 2009 and 2012 Czech air force detachments carried out the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states and the Czech Republic plans deploying another rotation of personnel and fighters to conduct the mission in the second semester of 2019.
Two Czech officers are serving in the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Vilnius. The cooperation between the Lithuanian and the Czech Air Forces is particularly close and cultivated in various exercises and training events in Lithuania and the Czech Republic.
The NATO eFP Battalion Battle Group was deployed in Rukla in 2017 and is led by Germany. Personnel and weapons to the NATO eFP Battle Group are also contributed by Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, and Iceland. In total, the strength of the multinational unit is roughly 1,200.
The four multinational battalions have been deployed in the Baltic states and Poland as agreed at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in response to the growing threat from Russia.