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Feb 11 2022

Boots on the Ground - COM JFCBS visits Battlegroup in Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania – The Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCBS), General Jörg Vollmer, visited NATO's Eastern flank in Lithuania from 8 to 10 February.

In Vilnius, he first met with the Lithuanian Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys to discuss the Lithuanian NATO engagement. Topics included readiness, interoperability and coherence as well as deterrence and defence.

Marking five years of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), General Vollmer then visited the German-led eFP Battlegroup in Rukla, attending a ceremony and the unveiling of a symbolic monument to mark the anniversary. The General took the opportunity to thank Lithuania for hosting the NATO unit.

"I am proud to congratulate the many thousands of Alliance soldiers who have contributed to NATO's enhanced Forward Presence since 2017. You have played a vital role in Alliance Defence. The enhanced Forward Presence is a visible sign of NATO's commitment to Collective Defence. Over the last five years, it has also enhanced interoperability and built bonds of friendship between Allied soldiers", the General highlighted.

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Numerous nations' representatives attended following the invitation of the Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda and Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas to Rukla. These included the Minister of Defence of the Netherlands, Kajsa Ollongren; NATO Deputy Secretary General, Mircea Geoană; and the Chair of the Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer. Representing the framework nation, the German Ambassador to Lithuania, Matthias Sonn, and the German Chief of Defence, General Eberhard Zorn, also attended the ceremony.

"The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Lithuania has turned five. We can see clearly by now how necessary and important the decision to deploy such battle groups in the Baltic states and Poland was. The NATO Battalion in Lithuania is an obvious piece of evidence of allied unity and solidarity and of allied collective defence commitment", Lithuania's President Gitanas Nausėda stressed in his opening speech."

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Stressing that NATO is a defensive organisation, committed to finding a political solution to crises, Deputy Secretary General, Mircea Geoană, said that NATO's forces send a powerful message to anyone who would want to do them harm.

"An attack on one Ally is an attack on all. NATO's enhanced Forward Presence also shows that our Alliance can adapt to meet any challenge, at any time. And this is more important today. Because we see Russia's continued military build-up in and around Ukraine, and movement of forces into Belarus. NATO continues to call on Russia to de-escalate."

This being the fifth anniversary, the eleventh six-month rotation of troops is now on site in Rukla. The solemn and dignified ceremony also marked the official handover of command to the incoming Battlegroup.

Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office

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