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Frequently Asked Questions about the Lithuanian Armed Forces in the context of COVID19

Constantly updated, last updated on 23 March 2020 

1. Contribution of the Lithuanian Armed Forces to COVID19 situation management:

As updated on March 23 at 0900hrs, currently approx. 120 soldiers of the National Defence Volunteer Force (NDVF) assigned to the Domestic Support Forces* are on duty at one time by the internal Lithuania-Latvia and Lithuania-Poland European Union borders and at seaports and airports of Lithuania.

Lithuanian military personnel are assisting civilian authorities:

  • At Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports and Klaipėda Seaport since March 3:

o 63 soldiers of the National Defence Volunteer Force have been managing passenger flow, registering travellers returning to Lithuania and providing them information side by side with colleagues from the National Public Health Centre;

  • At Lithuania-Latvia and Lithuania-Poland border-crossing points since March 16:

o 56 soldiers of the National Defence Volunteer Force have been assisting State Border Guard Service colleagues in providing information to and registering people entering the territory of Lithuania, and in controlling closed off strips of the border;

  • The Lithuanian Armed Forces set up 4 military tents at Vilnius and Kaunas airports for passenger registration and examination procedures on March 15;
  • The Spartan transport aircraft of the Lithuanian Air Force was used to bring citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as a shipment for the Transplant Centre (stem cells), back from Germany on March 16;
  • The Spartan transport aircraft of the Lithuanian Air Force was used to bring a shipment for the Transplant Centre (stem cells) from Germany to Lithuania on March 18;
  •  10 tents with administrative equipment were committed to Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos on March 22;
  • The Spartan transport aircraft of the Lithuanian Air Force was use to bring elements of COVID-19 testing to Lithuania on March 22;
  • Two Logistics Officers, one Medical Officer, and one Operational Planning Officer were appointed for liaison with the State Emergency Operations Centre of to plan and coordinate possible assistance from the Lithuanian Armed Forces;
  • Military and civilian personnel of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Strategic Communication Department were assigned to the Public Information Group by request of the Ministry of Health;
  • Analysts of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Strategic Communication Department are monitoring information space for fake/provocative/misleading information about the origin and spread of COVID-19 and reports it to state authorities.

2. Changes in Lithuanian Armed Forces activities made because of COVID19

The Lithuanian Armed Forces introduced the following COVID19 spread mitigation measures as part of the quarantine.

a. Limitations have been put on military training activities and exercises. International exercises and exercises scheduled to be located in non-military areas have been cancelled. Military personnel is allowed to train in groups not larger than 30 persons and have to respect social distancing recommendations. Exercises are only allowed to take place in military-use areas in open air.

b. Movement of military personnel and vehicles between units has been limited except for essential communication.

c. The weekend leave for conscripts of the Continuous Mandatory Initial Military Service (CMIMS) has been temporarily suspended. The preventive measure has been applied in order to ensure safety of the conscripts and their family members they would visit while ensuring the opportunities to stay in touch via technology.

d. A part of the career soldiers will undergo health assessment and have to stay with the conscripts, will carry out service on barracks regimen and will not be allowed to visit home. The measure has been applied to minimise outside contacts.

e. Additional combat training exercises combined with rest time have been planned for soldiers during the weekends.

f. All career soldiers are obliged to self-isolate, not to report to their units physically for two weeks after returning from service trips abroad.

g. Further military service trips abroad have been cancelled and are not scheduled.

Medical personnel and commanders have issued instructions in all units concerning additional counter-COVID19 hygiene: quarters are aired and cleaned more frequently, soldiers are washing their hands more often, hand sanitiser is available across quarters.

Important note: the quarantine does not alter the main mission of the Armed Forces – preparedness for armed state defence, therefore with additional safety measures in place, the Armed Forces has to remain ready to ensure that military personnel will fulfil their duty in national defence and in assisting other authorities fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

3. CMIMS conscripts are temporarily not granted weekend leaves because:

a. It is a preventive measure to minimize the risk for conscripts and their family members to become infected with the coronavirus. Equivalent measures were applied in the past to address the seasonal flu epidemic announced by municipalities in their areas of responsibility.

b. An emergency, or a quarantine, does not nullify tasks of the Armed Forces – military personnel continues the service the same way public order officers or firefighters do. Military training must continue not only to ensure implementation of the main task of the Armed Forces, armed state defence, but also for the Armed Forces to remain able to assist other state authorities fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

c. Barracks regimen for conscripts is a common practice during a quarantine period. It is imposed to protect conscripts’ health. Medical support elements are in operation across all divisions and military medics are ready to provide health services. CMIMS conscripts receive primary outpatient healthcare services, first medical aid, etc. Conscripts are training in routine military training exercises, attend civil education, leisure, sports, and other activities in unit territories during the weekends. It is a common practice in other NATO militaries as well.

4. Will the CMIMS conscription and transportation to units be halted.

a. Health check-ups conducted before joining the professional military service or CMIMS has been halted for the period March 17–April 3. The medical personnel has been reassigned to conduct other tasks.

b. Health examination notices issues for CMIMC conscripts will be postponed until later date or cancelled. Each conscript will be contacted individually to agree a new check-up date.

c. CMIMS conscripts who have already received instruction to provide their documents or contact have to contact via telephone or e-mail and to send their documents (e.g., education certificates or requests to postpone CMIMC) by remote means (registered mail or e-mail). All necessary information will be given via e-mail or by phone by regional divisions of the Military Conscription and Recruitment Service.

d. Directions for conscripts and information concerning fulfilment of their draft procedures is announced and updated on the sauktiniai.karys.lt. website.

e. Conscripts on the calendar year roll are obliged to closely follow updates of information concerning conscription and directions published online, and to follow the directions concerning conscription.

5. What should the young people living abroad do if they are on the 2020 conscription roll?

Conscripts who reside abroad and receive directions to present themselves to regional divisions of the Military Conscription and Recruitment Service in the nearest while have to first contact a regional division of the Military Conscription and Recruitment Service and provide information about their location and circumstances that impede their fulfilment of conscription duty. Conscription procedures for such conscripts will be paused and another date for arriving will be set.

6. Where are soldiers who have fever kept in military units?

Separated and isolated room is made available in every unit to be occupied by a soldier or a civilian employee in case COVID19 infection is suspected, according to the guidance for prevention of COVID19 spread in Lithuania approved by the Chief of Defence.

According to their condition (i.e., those who have fever because of other reasons) CMIMS conscripts are treated in separated premises or are referred to civilian healthcare institutions.

7. What is the procedure in case a soldier is diagnosed with COVID?

a. The soldier would be isolated and ambulance would be called. The premises where the soldier had been would be disinfected and those who had come into contact with him would be isolated and observed for 14 days. Catering for such soldiers would be arranged separately from the rest.

b. the ill soldier would be handed over for further care to civilian healthcare institutions.

8. Can family members visit conscripts in their units.

a. Family members are not allowed to visit soldiers at military units during quarantine on the basis of the Chief of Defence’s action plan restricting access by unauthorised persons to military units.

9. Is delivery of parcels to conscripts allowed.

a. Yes, it is allowed. However, keeping food in the barracks is prohibited.

10. What are the preventive measures applied to stop importation of the coronavirus into military units by career soldiers?

a. Soldiers and institutional representatives on duty at unit check-posts are wearing personal protective equipment (as of a separate direction, once community spread of the coronavirus has been identified) and conducting body temperature check-ups of every person entering the unit.

b. Movement of military personnel and vehicles between units has been restricted to essential only for the quarantine period.

c. Soldiers who have returned from abroad have to stay self-isolated for 14 days and not report to their units. They also have to up their hygiene efforts.

11. Is it true that NATO exercises scheduled for early April have not been cancelled?

a. All national and international exercises have been cancelled for the quarantine period. The United States-led Exercise Defender Europe 2020has been modified in scope and size. It is a rational and temporary solution applied with regard to the spread of the coronavirus.

12. What are the military personnel doing at their units at this time?

a. Soldiers are completing essential tasks and continuing military which is also essential for maintaining preparedness of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

b. Soldiers are following the recommendations for preventing the infection, however, please note, that the quarantine does not alter the key mission of the Lithuanian Armed Forces – to be ready for armed state defence, therefore with additional safety measures in place, the Armed Forces has to remain ready to ensure that military personnel will fulfil their duty in national defence and in assisting other authorities fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

13. Is there a medical facility in military territories?

a. There are medical support units and military medics are ready to provide health services in every division of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. CMIMS conscripts receive primary outpatient healthcare services, first medical aid, etc.

14. Are there COVID19 positive soldiers in the Lithuanian Armed Forces?

a. First cases of COVID-19 infection have been identified in the Lithuanian Armed Forces for one civilian employee and one soldier from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The civilian employee diagnosed with COVID-19 has been isolating at home since March 11 already, he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 21. The allied soldier has been diagnosed positive On March 22, all safety measures have been employed since. The Lithuanian Armed Forces continues to observe and practise all safety and preventive measures to protect the health of military personnel in the best way possible.

15. Have the education activities been suspended at the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania (MAL)?

a. The Academy is a military university, hence service and other activities there have not been withheld. However, distance learning is applied as much as possible.

b. The terms for military and civilian personnel access to the territory have been severely tightened.

c. Additional safety measures for those entering the MAL territory: movement of persons into the area has been minimised.

d. Hand sanitisers have been made available at different and numerous locations throughout the MAL compound, everyone is invited to follow Ministry of Health recommendations and norms of personnel hygiene.

e. The education process has not been stopped and is taking place remotely, military training is conducted on the MAL territory and restricted outside of it. Joint formations and activities in large groups have been paused.

f. Cadets and CMIMS training platoon conscripts serving in the MAL territory are on barracks regimen, leaves are minimised.

g. Foreign language courses are halted for all students except for foreign students housed on the MAL territory, their movement to outside the MAL territory is also minimised.

h. Other courses that are already underway at the MAL are finished earlier, tasks are assigned remotely, and no new courses are begun.

i. The Military Academy of Lithuania is following the situation in the country and the world and takes additional preventive measures against infection in order to ensure uninterrupted functioning of the military institution.

 

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