Rukla, Lithuania, 7 February 2017
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen joined Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Lieutenant-General Jonas Vytautas Žukas, commander-in-chief of the Lithuanian armed forces, to welcome the first components of the German-led enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup.

(© )
“Lithuania will never again stand alone,” the Minister said at the welcoming ceremony in Rukla, Lithuania, looking back on the country’s past. She said that “we Germans are connected to Lithuania by a long and sometimes difficult history,” and highlighted Germany’s leadership of the Battlegroup as a symbol of great trust in the Bundeswehr. “What we are seeing here to today – this is NATO”

The right time

Members of the Lithuanian army and delegations from the Czech and US armed forces were on parade alongside the German, Belgian and Dutch soldiers of the Battlegroup, with temperatures at double figures below freezing. In the words of Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė, the eFP Battlegroup was coming to the right place at the right time. There was a definite, clearly discernible threat in the region, she said.

The President of Lithuania and Minister von der Leyen at the ceremony
(© Bundeswehr/Weber)

Multinational Battlegroup composition

Bundeswehr soldiers, eventually numbering over 450, will form the core of the Battlegroup, which will be equivalent to a reinforced battalion. The core of the multinational Battlegroup will consist of a German headquarters and service company, one German and one Dutch mechanised infantry company, an enhanced Norwegian mechanised infantry company and a Belgian-led multilateral logistics component. The Battlegroup will also be led by a multinational staff headed by Lieutenant Christoph Huber.

Around 230 German and Belgian soldiers are currently in Rukla.
(© Bundeswehr/Weber)

This is a translation of an article by Björn Lenz published on

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