Brunssum, The Netherlands – Wednesday 21 September, Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCBS) hosted a visit by Brigadier General Mindaugas Steponavičius, Lithuania’s Deputy Chief of Defence.
The security environment in the Euro-Atlantic area continues to evolve
The main purpose of the visit was to exchange views on the current situation in the region and to discuss ways the Alliance might adapt to evolving challenges.
“The security environment in the Euro-Atlantic area continues to evolve. New threats and challenges are constantly emerging. The Alliance adapts and plans accordingly, and its forward-presence will remain as long as the security situation requires it,” underlined General Guglielmo Luigi Miglietta, Commander JFCBS.
General Miglietta took the opportunity to thank the Lithuanian Armed Forces for their daily commitment to NATO’s vigilance activities. The latest significant demonstration of this commitment being Exercise “Amber Mist 22”, hosted by the country in August, which was a very beneficial event for the military cyber community who trained to secure infrastructure across the Alliance.
Lithuania’s geographical location underlines its crucial role in defending the Baltic Sea Region. For this reason, the country is currently host to a significant number of military air and land assets provided from its own resources and NATO Members, for example:
- aircraft operating within the construct of a long-established NATO Air Policing mission(1);
- Surface Based Air and Missile Defence (SBAMD) assets contributing to vigilance activities;
- Multinational Battlegroup Lithuania, led by Germany as Framework nation, that includes more than 1500 soldiers from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. The Battlegroup coordinates its activities with the Lithuanian Army’s “Iron Wolf” Brigade consisting of more than 3000 Lithuanian soldiers.
In addition, circa one hundred German soldiers arrived in Lithuania on 04 September, as part of NATO’s increased military presence on the Alliance’s eastern flank. Command staff will remain permanently in the Baltic nation, while combat units will join, on a rotational basis, for exercises. General Miglietta highlighted Lithuania’s efficient cooperation with Germany and stated he was pleased to see pledges made at NATO’s Madrid Summit, in June, were already being successfully executed.
Last but not least, being a coastal State, Lithuania is regularly visited by the NATO Standing Naval Forces SNMG1 and SNMCMG1(2). Ships attached to these maritime groups regularly train/operate with Allies and Partners to increase interoperability, readiness and cohesion.
(1) NATO Air Policing is a collective defence mission to ensure the integrity of Allied airspace and to protect Alliance nations by maintaining continuous a 24/7 Air Policing. The mission involves the use of the Air Surveillance and Control Systems (ASACS), Air Command and Control (Air C2) and fighter interceptor aircraft. These assets respond to military and civilian aircraft that do not follow international flight regulations and approach or fly near Allied airspace. In the Baltic States, Air Policing capabilities are provided via the deployment of NATO fighter aircraft to Šiauliai Air Base, in Lithuania. In response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, since the end of February 2022, NATO has substantially increased the number of fighter jets on alert across Eastern Europe. Their presence helps shield NATO against any possible aggression. A significant number of Allied fighter aircraft are on alert at all times to respond to possible airspace violations and to deter aggression.
Based in Northwood, United Kingdom, MARCOM is the primary headquarters responsible for maritime forces assigned to NATO. These forces include two Standing NATO Maritime Groups (SNMGs) made up of frigates and destroyers, and two Mine Countermeasures groups (SNMCMGs). Half of this force is usually located in Northern Europe, so close coordination is required with HQ JFCBS, NATO’s Operational Command for the Northern European region. The Standing Maritime Groups also form part of the maritime component of the NATO Response Force, and would be some of the first maritime units to respond in the event of a crisis situation.