During the first visit to Rukla as Commander in Chief, President Gitanas Nausėda met with the Lithuanian and NATO Enhanced Forward Presence troops. The President was interested in the living conditions of soldiers, visited the barracks of the permanent compulsory basic military service, and had lunch with soldiers in the canteen.
The President also visited the military divisions of Rukla garrison and was informed about the tasks of the Mechanized Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf and the Greater Lithuanian Hetman Jonušas Radvila Training Regiment as well as of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group. During the meeting, continuity of military development and modernization projects as well as closer cooperation with the allies were discussed.
“Yesterday, the National Defense Council made important decisions which will determine the development of our military capabilities in the coming years. I am happy that we share the understanding that in the face of external threats we must be highly responsible and dedicate sufficient attention to national defense. Lithuania will reach the target of 2 percent of GDP this year and we will stick to the plan to increase our military spending next year”, said the President.
The President tested new infantry fighting vehicle Wolf. Last summer, the first four of these 88 vehicles manufactured by the German company for the Lithuanian Armed Forces have been officially handed over. All 88 vehicles will be delivered to Lithuania by the end of 2021.
The visit to Rukla focused on the German-led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence force in Lithuania. NATO Summit in Warsaw, in 2016, adopted the decision to strengthen defense capabilities of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland by establishing a NATO mission – Enhanced Forward Presence Force.
German troops provide the core of the current rotation of the battle group. Currently, there are troops from the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Norway, Iceland and Belgium deployed in Lithuania. At the end of the visit, the President watched the tactical interoperability exercise between the Lithuanian troops and NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, inspected the military equipment, and talked to the soldiers of the international battalion.
“We are grateful to Germany for its leadership in ensuring the security of entire Europe and its commitment to lead NATO Enhanced Forward Presence battalion in Lithuania, which has become an integral part of our defense system. These forces deployed in Lithuania demonstrate strong solidarity among the members of the Alliance by helping to ensure the security of Lithuania, the region and the Alliance”, the President said after observing the exercise.