Šeštokai, Lithuania, 24 February 2017

A rail shipment of 20 Marder infantry combat vehicles and six Leopard 2 battle tanks reached its destination on 24 February. With more than 400 soldiers as well as their vehicles and equipment transported to Lithuania, the deployment of German forces there is now complete.

Now they have arrived: the Leopard 2 battle tanks, the Marder infantry combat vehicles, one Büffel recovery tank, one Dachs armoured engineer vehicle and a Biber armoured bridgelaying vehicle. The last rail shipment reached Šeštokai station on the morning of 24 February. The vehicle crews, themselves only recently arrived in Lithuania, were already longing for their equipment to arrive. As one of the soldiers put it, “Mechanised infantry are just not complete without our Marders.”

Soon after their arrival, the vehicles were already rolling down the loading ramp. “Everything is running smoothly. Deutsche Bahn and the Lithuanian authorities have provided us with outstanding support,” reports Captain H., the responsible officer here at the station.

An impressive showIt is impressive to see several tons of tank being manoeuvred from the freight wagons with precision. The margin for error is no more than a few centimetres in places. Once unloaded from the wagons, the tanks complete a standing 180‑degree turn before heading off towards the parking lot and vehicle carriers. “This is part of day-to-day business for us,” the loading officer says, “We regularly do exercises with our vehicles, so this is fairly routine.

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Support from a Belgian logistics team

The Battlegroup’s Belgian motor transport company is standing by to then load the infantry combat vehicles onto heavy equipment transporters. The specialists from our neighbouring country have been gaining even more expertise over the last few weeks, not least thanks to the arrival of around 200 vehicles and 120 containers. As one might therefore expect, the loading goes quickly.

Everyone in Rukla by the end of February

The onward journey first goes to a Lithuanian barracks in Marijampolė, around 20 kilometres from Šeštokai. From there, the vehicles will be transferred to Rukla in several waves over the coming days. Assuming everything continues to go as planned, they will all be in the logistics area of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Lithuania by the end of February.

This is a translation of an article by Torsten Stephan published on www.bundeswehr.de

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