Ādaži, Latvia - The welcome ceremony of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup (eFP) deployed to Latvia on June 19 marks the successful completion of all eFP deployments to the Baltic States and Poland, as announced at the Warsaw summit eleven months ago.
The Canadian-led Battlegroup was officially welcomed by NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, the President of the Republic of Latvia, Raimonds Vejonis, and the Ministers of Defense of Latvia and Canada, Raimonds Bergmanis and Harjit Sajjan respectively, as well as the Chief of Defense of Latvia and the troop-contributing Nations - Albania, Canada, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain - and many other dignitaries.
In his remarks the Secretary General underlined that these forces send a clear message: NATO stands as one. Altogether there are more than 4000 troops deployed; they are well trained and well equipped, and share a common purpose: to defend Allies from aggression.
The Minister of Defense of Latvia emphasised that, less than one year after the decision taken at the Warsaw Summit, we welcomed troops from six NATO countries on the ground, shoulder to shoulder with Latvian soldiers - 'together we will defend our people, our country and our values', he said.
Commander JFC Brunssum, General Salvatore Farina, also participated in this milestone event - along with Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Sir James Everard, Commander Multinational Corps Northeast, Lieutenant General Manfred Hofmann, and other NATO officials - and had the opportunity to congratulate the battlegroup commander, Lieutenant Colonel Wade Rutland, for the successful deployment of the fourth eFP unit to the Eastern flank of the Alliance: 'Today, with the troops under your command deployed to Latvia, NATO adds a new, significant capability to its enhanced deterrence and defense posture on the Eastern flank of the Alliance, thus providing a balanced and proportionate response measure in times of crisis', the General said.
After the ceremony, which included a parade and some reflective moments, a static display allowed the participants to meet and greet the troops on the ground. The almost 1100 man-strong Battlegroup will be training and operating with the Latvian Land Force Infantry Brigade and be based at Camp Adazi.
At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw the Heads of States and Governments of NATO Nations agreed to deploy multinational Battlegroups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in the framework of an enhanced Forward Presence of the Alliance in order to strengthen its collective deterrence and defence posture in the region.
During his visit to Latvia General Farina also met with the Chief of the Latvian National Defense Forces, Major General Leonids Kalnins.
Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office