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Apr 28 2021

Enhanced Forward Presence Lithuania increases interoperability

The article was originally published in German on the Bundeswehr's website on April 16, 2021 

Gaižiūnai, Lithuania –  After intensive preparations, the men and women of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania conducted their first multinational combat training. Dutch, Belgian and German soldiers trained side by side during the multinational exercise week held near Rukla. The soldiers not only showcased their combat skills, but also practiced casualty care and logistic combat service support. Together they were able to show that the Battle Group maintains a high level of proficiency.

eFP Battle Group Lithuania integration exercise / Photo by Bundeswehr, PAO eFP

As the exercise at the Gaižiūnai military training area is about to begin, the frost which has prevailed for weeks gives way to spring weather. This creates additional challenges as the higher temperatures leave roads, paths and tank trails muddy and the ground deep and boggy. Under such conditions the military drivers have to be prepared to go to their limits. In the morning light, the members of the Battle Group gather and set off for the exercise area where different training scenarios have been prepared for them.

Initial casualty care

“In combat, the soldiers rely on medical care provided by medical specialists. Casualty care, however, already begins before we arrive on site,” explains Sergeant Major Stefan S., an independent medic on the Boxer armoured medical vehicle.

During the exercise, he is among other things responsible for instructing the men and women of the Battle Group in initial casualty care.

“Success depends on smooth cooperation between the first aiders in the companies and our medics and on the availability of material,” adds Sergeant Major S. “Together with the first aiders in the armoured infantry platoons, we therefore practiced casualty evacuation, initial medical care and the transfer of the wounded to the mobile aid station by the medical team.” The medical teams in the Boxer vehicles follow the troops during combat and provide support by delivering initial medical care to the injured.

eFP Battle Group Lithuania integration exercise / Photo by Bundeswehr, PAO eFP

No fuel, no movement

“The full effect of the Leopard main battle tanks and the Marder infantry fighting vehicles unfolds through a combination of fire power and movement. In order to ensure the logistic support of the soldiers, a supply point is established and operated in cooperation with the headquarters and service company,” explains Captain Lennart B. As the operations officer of the German first company in Rukla, he is responsible for ensuring his company receives supplies during operations. This is ensured by a system of drive-up points where the soldiers in their combat vehicles receive fuel, ammunition as well as food and water so that they can continue their mission. The focus of this part of the training exercise is on the sustainability of the Battle Group, which has to be ensured for the duration of any combat operation.

Multinational combat training

This is the ultimate challenge for the multinational Battle Group in Lithuania. All soldiers work hand in hand as they delay an attack by the adversary. While its core is made up of German units, the Battle Group also comprises combat and support forces from four other NATO nations. “Cooperation in an operational context requires that the national units continuously train together and get to know the capabilities of the partner units during training in a multinational environment,” says Lieutenant Colonel Hebisch, Commander of the enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Lithuania.

eFP Battle Group Lithuania integration exercise / Photo by Bundeswehr, PAO eFP

Taking training closer to reality

The exercises are prepared in a multinational context. They present an opportunity to train the principles of delay and counter-attack at the same time. German and Belgian main battle tanks, together with their armoured infantry elements, encounter Dutch security forces consisting of Boxer armoured vehicles and dismounted infantry soldiers.

The soldiers and their combat vehicles are equipped with the AGDUS combat simulation system, which significantly increases the realism of the exercise by simulating friendly casualties and the need for casualty care.

Changing the method of fighting

During the counter-attack, the German armoured infantry soldiers encounter enemy obstacles and are forced to dismount to engage weak enemy security forces. Master Sergeant Dennis D. explains the difficulty involved for the soldiers: “Changing the method of fighting in combat requires a high degree of coordination on the part of the platoon and squad leaders as well as a high level of discipline, commitment and combat power on the part of all soldiers.” According to Master Sergeant Dennis D., the key to mastering this complex task is to train continuously and, in particular, to train together. He knows what he is talking about. He is the deputy leader of the German combat company’s A platoon.

eFP Battle Group Lithuania integration exercise / Photo by Bundeswehr, PAO eFP

Story by Stefan Gierke / English version edited by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office

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