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May 16 2022

NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania hones reconnaissance capabilities

RUKLA, Lithuania Since February, the mixed reconnaissance company has been deployed to Lithuania to reinforce the eFP battlegroup. During previous rotations, reinforcements routinely arrived in Lithuania to participate in exercise Iron Wolf. Owing to current global political events, the soldiers this time deployed to the Baltics already in February.

In Lithuania, the men and women of the company prepare a near-real-time situation picture that is as complete as possible. This is an important contribution to providing the information needed by the commander. Their skillset enables the soldiers to carry out their reconnaissance mission worldwide and in the context of any tactical activity. To gather information, the sensors of the reconnaissance company are deployed independently in enemy territory for a period of up to three days in general. Upon return, the sensors receive supplies and prepare for the next mission.

The mixed reconnaissance company has a diverse set of reconnaissance assets which must be synchronized with one another / Photo by Lisa Engler
The armoured transport vehicle is used as a mobile command post by the mixed reconnaissance company / Photo by eFP Lihuania
The mission is to reconnoitre the battlefield and prepare a comprehensive situation picture for the eFP battlegroup / Photo by Florian Sorge

The company command post: where operations are planned

The command post section is responsible for the establishment, organization and operation of the company command post. In Lithuania, the section is additionally equipped with two Fuchs armoured transport vehicles and a custom-made command post tent from Germany. The company command post is where the deployment of the sensors is planned and where they are managed during ongoing operations.
The company command element comprises the following functions: the company command, the first sergeant's team, the supply team and the technical team responsible for the maintenance of combat vehicles. These elements ensure that command and control runs smoothly and the company receives supplies.

Diverse capabilities, a single objective

The UAV platoon uses the LUNA airborne unmanned short-range reconnaissance system to collect imagery intelligence. This system is able to detect targets within a radius of up to 80km during the day and at night. The platoon has its own maintenance staff in order to ensure that upon touching down the UAVs are swiftly prepared for follow-on missions. The radar team also collects imagery intelligence, mainly relying on the radar sensor. Radar reconnaissance can be conducted in nearly any weather condition and is suitable for the surveillance of larger areas. The radar teams furthermore are able to carry out dismounted reconnaissance tasks and conduct observation missions.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platoon uses the LUNA UAV for airborne reconnaissance of targets within a radius of up to 80km / Photo by Marc Butte

Always on the move

To gather intelligence, the light reconnaissance section either uses the Fuchs armoured transport vehicle or conducts dismounted reconnaissance patrols – a combination of the two techniques is possible as well. The section, however, achieves its greatest operational effectiveness when dismounted since it is particularly suited to operating in rugged or difficult terrain. To accomplish their mission, the soldiers use – in addition to optical equipment – their sub-system, the MIKADO system, a local-area micro reconnaissance UAV.

The reconnaissance platoon is organized into two Fennek reconnaissance patrols. Vehicle-based reconnaissance can be employed to detect targets across a large area while on the move. The Fennek light armoured reconnaissance vehicle is equipped with observation and reconnaissance equipment. Thanks to the use of the thermal imager, a monochrome camera and a laser range finder, reconnaissance can be conducted across large distances. If required, these forces can also operate from a concealed position. The reconnaissance patrols also use sub-systems in support of their reconnaissance activities. This includes the ALADIN UAV.

The reconnaissance patrol uses the Fennek light armoured reconnaissance vehicle / Photo by Florian Sorge

A memorable time

Halfway through his tour in Lithuania, Michael S., the commander of the reconnaissance company, reflects positively on what has been achieved so far: "This mission was and is a demanding, yet attractive opportunity to demonstrate the operational readiness of the company. During the exercises of past rotations, we learned a lot and improved our performance as a unit in a multinational environment. The scenario, the quantity of forces in the area and the intensity of the exercises are unique and create memorable experiences from which many of us will continue to benefit a long time from now."

Story by Bundeswehr; translation into English provided by Multinational Corps Northeast

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