Pabradė, Lithuania, 16 June 2017

A dull booming echoes across the training area at Pabradė in Lithuania. Shortly thereafter, huge clouds of soil fountain up into the air as the artillery projectiles crash into the target area. The shots are on target. First Lieutenant Fabian W. of 295 Artillery Battalion from Stetten am kalten Markt has a quick look and pronounces himself satisfied: “Target hit,” he reports to the firing position. The exercise Flaming Thunder has begun.

Image 1
(© Bundeswehr)
Alongside other support units from the Stetten battalion, Fabian W.’s second company forms part of the reinforcements to enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania. These reinforcements are welcome. As the eFP Battlegroup commander, Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Huber, puts it, “With these artillery forces as well as the heavy army engineering forces from Minden, the CBRN company from Bruchsal and the air defence provided by the air force, I have all the capabilities I need to conduct a combined-arms operation.” The German artillery have been joined on this exercise by soldiers from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Netherlands, making a total of around 700 servicemen and -women.


Next to the German and Lithuanian self-propelled howitzers, there are a number of Polish 152mm DANA wheeled armoured self-propelled guns, Lithuanian and Dutch mortars and Latvian joint fire observers. The main focus of the exercise is on cooperation within the battalion in the area of indirect supporting fire and multinational teamwork between the cannon and mortar units. The specialists here are the Joint Fire Support Teams, who coordinate the deployment of weaponry from indirect fire to close air support.

Image 2
(© Bundeswehr)
Fire support for the combat troops

“These teams providing joint fire support are right up there with the combat forces,” First Lieutenant W. explains. “They advise the combat commander, reconnoitre targets, call for supporting fire and guide that fire to its target.” All orders are given in English – which is the norm in a multinational environment. “Exercises like this are indispensable to the maintenance and development of NATO’s joint fire support capabilities,” says Lieutenant Colonel Kim Oliver Frerichs, commander of 295 Artillery Battalion. “This is the second year running that the troops have had the opportunity to train alongside NATO Allies and partners as part of the battalion’s core mandate here in Pabradė,” he adds. This applies not only to the Joint Fire Support Teams but also to the gun crews.

This is the translation of an article by PAO EFP published on

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