On April 6 a running event on a military runway at the Lithuanian Air Force Base – Runway Run 2019 attracted over 9 thousand participants to surmount the 3 thousand meter-distance and marked the 70th NATO anniversary.
Participants were congratulated by Minister of National Defence R. Karoblis who noted the symbolism of the venue: “This is exactly the place that the F-16 fighter aircraft of the Royal Belgian Air Force landed 15 years ago several hours before Lithuania became a member of NATO, ready to protect our airspace from the very first seconds of our membership. For 15 years already the mission has been not only a guarantee of our security but also a real and tangible example of a collective defence commitment,” he said.
More than a hundred and a half of soldiers from NATO allies deployed in Lithuania ran alongside residents and guests of Šiauliai in the event marking the NATO anniversary and demonstrating unity of allies while G&G Sindikatas band made sure the mood was right.
A static display of military equipment and weaponry brought to Lithuania by our allies was presented: the 36 tone Boxer wheeled infantry fighting vehicle, Fenek armoured reconnaissance vehicle, Germany’s Leopard 2 tank, Marder infantry fighting vehicle, and other equipment brought by the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group.
At the event the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces presented a static display of their weaponry and vehicles for the first time. Also, participants of the event were able to see military aircraft of the Lithuanian Air Force, F-16 fighter aircraft of the Polish Air Force’s rotation of the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states, weaponry, equipment and military vehicles used by Lithuanian and NATO allies’ soldiers, and to ask questions about the Continuous Mandatory Initial Military Service.
Charity was collected at Runway Run 2019 for the Injured Servicemembers Association that assists Lithuanian Armed Forces soldiers overcome trauma and injuries and their effects and to reintegrate. The donations will be transferred to the charity fund of the Association used for paying for rehabilitation, medicaments, and other necessities for injured soldiers.
This year the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) celebrates its 70th anniversary and Lithuania – its 15th anniversary of NATO membership. NATO is the most successful Alliance in history that today unites 29 democracies, European and North American countries that value freedom, human rights, and the rule of law.
Photo credits: Sgt Spc I. Budzeikaitė