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Aug 16 2022

Baltic Amber 2022: NATO Force Integration Unit and enhanced forward presence Battlegroup - trailblazers in Latvia

In early 2014, the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine changed the security situation in the Baltic region completely. Soon thereafter, in September, the NATO Summit in the Welsh town of Newport approved the Readiness Action Plan—the most significant reinforcement of NATO's collective defence since the end of the Cold War. The establishment of NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs) resulted directly from this historic undertaking.

NATO Force Integration Unit Latvia's activation ceremony, Riga, 16 November 2015 / Photos by Gatis Dieziņš

The main idea behind NFIU Latvia was simple—to assure and deter. Yet the actual accomplishment of this enormous task was a much more complicated matter. General Hans-Lothar Domröse, the then Commander Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, delivered powerful words: "Who was the second man on the moon? Everyone only remembers the first one. And you, you are the first ones, my friends. It is a good thing that you have no one to copy. You do not have predecessors. You have to create something unique." NFIU Latvia achieved a lot in a very short time. It is enough to mention that the unit was officially certified in June 2016, less than a year after its establishment.

There was no doubt that the NFIU's effective functioning would be dependent on good working relations with the host nation and Allies. Only in this way, NFIU Latvia could shoulder the responsibility of preparing the grounds for a potential Allied deployment to Latvia. Therefore, a lot of time and effort was spent meeting with Latvian military officials and politicians, including the ministers of transportation, internal affairs and foreign affairs. With that, the Riga-based unit began to serve its prime purpose to the full extent and act as the main link between the host nation and its defence forces and all Allied troops, whether as part of NATO or other defence agreements.

Latvia welcomes the Canadian-led enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup, Ādaži, 19 June 2017 / Photo by NATO

Preparing for the arrival of the Canadian-led enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup was one of the first major opportunities for the unit to show their experience and knowledge. The multinational NFIU staff had to provide information on Latvia's military capabilities, infrastructure, communication systems, security situation, information environment, etc. Sometimes—yet not less importantly—NFIU Latvia just had to bring together responsible persons in particular areas.

For the full article by Rūdolfs Balodis (Communication Advisor NFIU Latvia) see:

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