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Feb 11 2022

Commander MNC NE joins NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania's anniversary CEREMONY

VILNIUS, Lithuania - In Rukla during the ceremony attended by LTG Jürgen-Joachim von Sandrart, NATO Allies celebrated the 5th anniversary of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Lithuania. "Our eFP commitment is an expression of NATO's solidarity and ability to defend its territory," Commander Multinational Corps Northeast (COM MNC NE) said.

Deployed in the Baltic Sea region, eFP comprises not only four battalion-size multinational Battlegroups. It encompasses the National Home Defence Forces Brigades in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, logistic support and reinforcement, as well as Multinational Corps Northeast providing the Command and Control authority thorough Multinational Division North and Multinational Division North East. Additionally, eFP is actively supported by NATO Force Integration Units which represent a permanent link to their Host Nations. They all facilitate the Alliance's ability to ensure credible deterrence and, if need be, defence against any aggression towards the Allies in the Baltic region.

"2022 marks the 5th anniversary of the Allies decision to establish the eFP Battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland," COM MNC NE highlighted and added:

This continuing commitment is an expression of NATO's determination and ability to defend its territory. Today, service member from over 20 Allies train and exercise together, representing NATO's unity and resolve.
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NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania's 5th anniversary ceremony in Rukla / Photo by eFP LTU PAO
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LTG von Sandrart with the outgoing and incoming Commanders of NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania / Photo by eFP LTU PAO

During the Rukla ceremony, the command over the eFP Battlegroup was handed over from LTC Hagen Ruppelt to LTC Daniel Andrä. On this occasion, LTG von Sandrart thanked the outgoing Commander and wished all the best to his successor: "Like all Battlegroups in the Baltic States and Poland, yours in Lithuania is, too,  multinational and combat ready, demonstrating the strength of the transatlantic bond and sending a clear sign of NATO's unity and solidarity."

LTG von Sandrart appreciated the opportunity to speak with the Commander of the Lithuanian Iron Wolf Brigade, COL Mindaugas Petkevičius. Upon their wide-ranging discussion, COM MNC NE highlighted:

I am very proud that we stand together side by side. The Iron Wolf Brigade not only forms the core of the Lithuanian Army, but also represents Lithuania's contribution to NATO's collective defence.
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COL Petkevičius with the outgoing and incoming Commanders of NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania / Photo by eFP LTU PAO
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NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania's 5th anniversary ceremony in Rukla / Photo by eFP LTU PAO
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'Boots on the ground': the monument commemorating NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania's 5th anniversary / Photo by eFP LTU PAO

Of particular importance was LTG von Sandrart's meeting with Lithuania's Chief of Defence, LTG Valdemaras Rupšys. The Commander emphasized that Lithuania was an exemplary host nation to NATO's enhanced Forward Presence. LTG von Sandrart expressed his great appreciation for the Lithuanian Armed Forces' contribution to MNC NE.

While in Vilnius, the Commander visited NATO Force Integration Unit Lithuania (NFIU LTU) led by COL Peter Nielsen. Activated in 2015, NFIU LTU is part of NATO's permanent presence in the Baltic region. Attached to the MNC NE chain of command, their main mission is focused on facilitating the rapid deployment of Allied forces to Lithuania, supporting collective defence planning, and assisting in training and exercise coordination. At the same time, NFIU LTU acts as the main link between the host nation and all Allied troops, whether as part of NATO or other defence arrangements. "I am very proud to see how effectively NFIU Lithuania is fulfilling it mission," LTG von Sandrart summarized.

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LTG vonn Sandrart and LTG Rupšys (Lithuania's Chief of Defence) / Photo by MNC NE PAO
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LTG von Sandrart and COL Nielsen (COM NFIU LTU) / Photo by MNC NE PAO

Upon the completion of his visit, LTG von Sandrart was impressed by the professionalism and commitment of all counterparts. The Commander stated: "To contribute to credible deterrence we have strengthened our collective defence through the biggest reinforcement since the end of the Cold War. We have deployed four combat-ready Battlegroups in the Baltic States and Poland: a tangible reminder that an attack on one is an attack on all."

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office

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