Here, we only lacked the Norwegians and the Croats to have the military capabilities of all nations together. Thus, the Iron Wolf certification exercise is rather a "re-evaluation" of our "combat readiness". Along the way, the companies have undergone a great deal of training at group and platoon level - both nationally and internationally. Within the staff, the NATO command and control process was practised in the context of Lithuanian defence planning. The first joint Battlegroup exercise finally started at the beginning of April with Rising Bull, before moving on to the certification exercise Iron Wolf.
How did you prepare for this mission with your soldiers in advance?
As outlined earlier, we did not just meet with our international comrades in January and February of this year. The multinational mission preparation already started in July 2022 with a joint week in Hamburg. Here we developed staff regulations for the NATO battlegroup command process and other standard procedures. In September, the multinational Battlegroup was then in Hammelburg to put the developed procedures through their paces and revise weaknesses with the help of the SIRA combat exercise simulation system. The joint operational preparation finally culminated in the Army's Combat Training Centre in Letzlingen. Beforehand, all nations prepared intensively for the rotation in their respective countries. The preparation before the start of the deployment often lasts at least twelve months.
What was a very special moment for you personally?
A special moment for me was the visit of the Federal President, who visited the Battlegroup with his Lithuanian counterpart. I was deeply impressed by the sympathetic demeanour and empathy of our head of state. I also thought the idea of flying soldiers' families to Lithuania was great. This shows an extraordinary appreciation for our relatives. I personally think that the main burden is borne on the "home front" anyway. Finally, I took the opportunity to ask the Federal President for a personal photo. That was a very special moment for me.