The Ministry of National Defence made a decision to step up the military contribution to the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan on the basis of requests from NATO and allies.
Soldiers of the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces are planned to leave for Kandahar, their deployment destination, in April. Alongside soldiers of the United States of America they will be carrying out tasks of training and assisting local security forces. The overall number of Lithuanian soldiers deployed to Afghanistan will not exceed the limit set by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, i.e. 50 troops.
“This is Lithuania’s contribution to the efforts to strengthen international security. Lithuania receives strong support from our allies, therefore we have to contribute according to our means to the fight against issues of global character by helping prevent expansion of terrorism,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says.
At the moment 21 Lithuanian soldiers are serving with the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support. Lithuania will also allot annual USD 0.5 million (nearly EUR 415 thousand) in 2018-2020 for maintenance and training of the Afghan national security forces. Lithuania has been contributing to the trust fund, mainly financed by the U.S., since 2015.
Lithuania also continues its participation in the U.S.-led Coalition against ISIS/Daesh in Iraq but will not be increasing the contribution at the moment – a decision made after consultations with coalition partners and representatives of the United States.
Aside from multinational operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, currently Lithuanian soldiers are deployed to operations in Kosovo, Ukraine, Mali, Central African Republic, Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean – roughly 120 soldiers in total.
Photo credit: Sergeant Specialist Ieva Budzeikaitė (Lithuanian Armed Forces)