Lithuania plans to build permanent infrastructure for US troops

In a discussion with the newly appointed US Ambassador to Lithuania, Kara McDonald, on February 21, 2024, the Baltic country’s Minister of National Defense, Arvydas Anusauskas, pledged to build permanent infrastructure to support rotational units of US troops.

“You have come at times of tension and multiple challenges in our region,” Anusauskas reflected as he welcomed the Ambassador. “We look forward to being able to better meet the military readiness needs of Lithuanian and allied troops – we will provide better conditions and new infrastructure to US troops.”

In a statement after their meeting, McDonald said “…we appreciate Lithuania’s hospitality supporting the host nation to the rotating US military units deployed at the Pabradė training area.”

Pabradė is located in southeastern Lithuania. In mid-November 2023, Marne U.S. soldiers and their Lithuanian allies honed their combat skills during a force training exercise in Pabrade Training Area.

US soldiers conducted infantry and armored offensive operations against their Lithuanian partners in a series of training exercises in rural and urban environments to test their combat readiness. The Lithuanians, in turn, prepared a defense to counter the American attacks.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jaden Brown, a tank commander with Ares Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, stands in front of his tank during Exercise Strong Griffin at Pabrade Training Area, Lithuania, 16 Nov 2023. Credit: US Army.

NATO is trying to strengthen its presence in the east

NATO has begun to look to its turbulent eastern flank, where the Baltic states are eagerly expanding their defense capabilities and accepting larger numbers of allied troops into their territory than ever before in anticipation of a Russian land grab.

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This growing fixation on Eastern Europe was best captured by Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, agreeing to create a military logistics corridor in their respective regions as a way to seamlessly transport personnel and material eastward, overcoming any legal, logistical obstacles.

Lithuania has also responded with its own infrastructure expansion plans, having already established facilities to accommodate new platforms from the US, such as the new Black Hawks and European Boxer infantry fighting vehicles – the largest repair site in its region Baltic with an area of ​​4,500 square miles.

Just as the country began hosting German troops last year, it will do the same for American units. Previously, in a bilateral commitment to Lithuania, the German government said it would permanently station 4,000 troops in the country.

In November 2023, the Lithuanian Government announced the establishment of its new Upper Neris Terrace facility, an administrative, residential, training and logistical supply facility providing capacity for 3,000 troops: 1,000 from the Lithuanian Iron Wolf Brigade – which includes artillery and logistics battalions – as well as 2,000 personnel from NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group (EFPBG).

Germany, which leads the EFPBG, already has 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country. There are also 50 German soldiers permanently stationed in the Forward Command Element of the German Brigade for Lithuania.

US-Lithuania defense cooperation

“We welcome Lithuania’s investment [its] The modernization of the Armed Forces and the significant assistance to UkraineMcDonald added.

Lithuania signed contracts to acquire HIMARS artillery systems and AMRAAM missile purchases from the US last year, following earlier deals for 500 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles JLTVs, four Black Hawk helicopters and Switchblade drones.

Lithuania has also been buying Javelin anti-tank missile systems and various communications equipment from the US for many years.

US rotational battalions maintain a continuous presence in Lithuania as of 2019. Current units serving in Pabradė are the Hounds Battalion (3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment) and the Battle Kings Battalion (1st Battalion, 9th Field -9)).

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