Lithuanian troops enter standby in NATO Response Force and EU Battle Group

The Trilateral Baltic Battalion (BALTBAT) manned by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia began duty in the 14th rotation of the NATO Response Force (NRF-14) on January 1. On the same date Lithuanians will also enter half-year standby period in the EU Battle Group.

130 personnel of Lithuanian Contingent in the EU Battle Group comes from Motorised Infantry Company and logistics platoon, CIMIC division, and MP division of King Mindaugas Mechanised Infantry Battalion and includes military assigned to the multinational staff. Other countries represented in the Battle Group along with Lithuania are Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and Germany.

Trilateral Baltic Battalion was established for duty in NRF-14 in September 2007 and is led by Lithuania. Estonia and Lithuania supplied BALTBAT with military divisions and Latvia – with staff personnel. Lithuania has assigned mechanised infantry and staff support companies, and logistic support division, Estonia – mechanised infantry company and logistic support element to the Battalion. The countries increased their contribution by a military company and anti-tank platoon (Lithuania) and units of mine clearance and military police (Estonia) since Latvia decreased input due to recession of economy in summer 2009. More than 600 military from the 800-strong BALTBAT’s staff are Lithuanians.

„This is the priority task in Lithuanian troops’ combat training, less important only than training and participation in international missions,” said Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene. „Duty in NRF-14 would be a great test and responsibility for Lithuania if the force had been activated and deployed to an operation region in crisis by NATO’s decision to provide assistance. There are no doubts about professionality of our troops, however, it would require amassing financial assets for redeploying NRF-14.” According to the Minister, many states do not include assets for redeploying Response Force in their budgets because financing is allocated once the decision to send troops to an operation is made. Decision of allocation may be passed by the parliament or government of the state.

BALTBAT will conduct a half-year rotation in the land component of NRF-14 led by Denmark. Two parts of the component are two US infantry brigades (BALTBAT serves with one of them) and Greek Infantry Brigade. Personnel for NRF-14 is also submitted by the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, the Czech Republic, Norway, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Italy.

Formation of Response Force incapacitated the Alliance to respond to crises of various character including collective defence in any part of the world. NATO Response Force (NRF) is a highly ready and technologically advanced force of the Alliance made up of land, air, sea and special forces’ components that can deploy to the region of operation within five days from making the decision. It is self-sustainable and capable of performing missions worldwide across the whole spectrum of operations. NATO member states assign units for NRF on a half-year rotational basis. Before standby national units assigned for duty in NRF undergo six-month training program including individual and joint training for units. During the duty period national units maintain standby in their home countries ready to deploy into the operation region within a set time if NATO passed a decision to employ NRF.

The decision to establish NATO Response Force was made by NATO member states in the Prague Summit in November 2007. Battle groups are activated upon the decision of the North Atlantic Council. The first time the forces were activated in October 2005 to assist the earthquake-devastated Pakistan. Then Lithuania contributed water purification unit to the operation.

Lithuania sent a national unit to NRF for the first time in 2005. Logistic (water purification) unit of the Lithuanian Armed Forces performed duty in 2005 and 2008, Special operations forces squadrons – in 2005, 2006 and 2008, troops of the Lithuanian Air Force in 2008, and Mine hunter and sweeper of the Lithuanian Naval Force – in 2006, 2007, 2009.

The EU Battle Groups are multinational joint crisis management forces. Member states of the EU assign national units and equipment for six-month standby in the forces. The assigned national military units maintain high readiness in their home states and are capable of setting up for deployment in 5-10 days to any location beyond the borders of the EU at 6 thousand kilometers radius around Brussels in case political leadership of the EU decided to send a Battle Group to a crisis region. The first EU Battle Group entered standby in the beginning of 2005, and two units have been maintaining standby each half-year since 2007. Staff of each Battle Group is made of around 2 thousand troops.



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