Even in the most unprecedented of conditions, as a result of COVID-19, NATO forces continue to train. All the while, paying strict adherence to hygiene and other measures designed to prevent the spread of the pandemic in order to maintain high states of readiness and capability. The four multinational enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland continue to provide a tangible demonstration of the Alliance military capability and the strength of the transatlantic bond.
NATO’s eFP Battlegroup in Latvia practised defensive firing during Exercise Steele Crescendo, held at the Ādaži Training Grounds. This exercise included various types of live-fire activities and cumulated in a defensive fires demonstration. Norwegian soldiers from NATO’s eFP Battlegroup Lithuania conducted a so-called Joint Terminal Attack Controller training together with British Eurofighter jets, which improved the capability of troops on the ground to work together with planes. US Army soldiers currently deployed with NATO’s eFP Battlegroup Poland improved their skills by completing gunnery qualification training on armored personnel carriers.
These are just a few examples of how NATO is continuing to deliver credible and effective deterrence and defence, together with Allies and Partners.
In a phone call with Estonian Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recognised Estonia’s firm commitment and contribution to the Alliance. Mr. Stoltenberg said, “NATO remains fully committed to the security of Estonia, with our battlegroups, with our air policing, and with our ironclad commitment to your security.”
Estonia is a very important ally, being an integral part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, a valued contributor to the NATO Response Force, a host nation and contributor to an eFP Battlegroup, and a key stakeholder in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. NATO Air Policing is important both practically and politically because it demonstrates collective defence, one of NATO’s core tasks. France, Spain and the United Kingdom have led NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission since the beginning of this month. The three NATO Allies replaced air force detachments from Belgium and Poland which have protected the airspace of NATO’s three Baltic allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since January.
In a further demonstration of ongoing NATO efforts to assist in the COVID-19 response, an AN-124 heavy cargo transport aircraft, carrying 56 tons of face shields and gowns, arrived at Wroclaw airport, Poland, this week. This is the third mission tasked by the Polish Ministry of Defence to the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS). SALIS is a multinational programme, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), which provides the nine NATO nations participating in the programme with assured access to strategic transport aircraft for outsized and heavy cargo. In total, Poland has airlifted about 170 tons of medical supplies. This is the eleventh mission completed by SALIS in support of NATO nations during the COVID19 pandemic. Five nations have used their allocated flying hours quotas to airlift urgent medical protective equipment from China and tackle the coronavirus crisis.