Iceland joined the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Rukla, Lithuania, as of the second half of March.
“Iceland is a longstanding and trustworthy Lithuania’s partner, the first one to recognise the independence of our state. Therefore today it is joyous to have it joining NATO deterrence and defence efforts in the Baltic region and thus demonstrating the importance of solidarity and closer cooperation in countering threats to regional security. We highly appreciate it,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said.
Iceland appointed a civilian officer to work in the headquarters of the German-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group deployed since the beginning of 2017 in Rukla for six months.
Iceland does not have national armed forces but takes part in the shaping of the regional security environment contributes to NATO operations financially and delegates civilian personnel. It is not the first time Lithuania and Iceland act together. In 2005-2007 Iceland had a Mobile Liaison and Observation Team of seven members in the Lithuanian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Chaghcharan, province of Ghor, Afghanistan. Iceland also had a civilian development cooperation specialist in the province.
The NATO enhanced Forward Presence maintains high readiness and interoperability level through constant training and preparation for collective defence. Based in the Training Regiment in Rukla, the unit is integrated into the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf and continually trains in collective defence training and exercises.
Deployment of NATO enhanced Forward Presence in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland is a historical decision taken in July 2016. The forces is primarily a response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, build-up of military potential and demonstration of military power in the region.
Photo credit: Alfredas Pliadis