Lithuanian army creates new battalion

Lithuania is set to reinforce its army and deploy a new battalion in the west of the country, the draft bill approved by the Lithuanian government reads.

Lithuanian army creates new battalion
Soldiers from L Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, move to their next firing position during team leader training on Jan. 28, 2016, in Rukla, Lithuania (Picture source: U.S. Army / Staff Sgt. Michael Behlin)

According to the bill, the total maximum number of Lithuanian military should arrive at 21,300 – 26,900 persons in the year of 2024; the number of career servicemen should reach 11,400-15,600. Moreover, there is a proposal to increase the number of generals and senior officers. Such measures are to be taken to ensure at least 70% filling up military units by professionals in peacetime.

The bill also provides for establishing a logistics battalion as part of the Zemaitija brigade. At the moment, it consists of four battalions – three infantry and one arty units. Conscription was terminated in September 2008 but was reintroduced in 2015 because of concerns about the geopolitical environment in light of Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.

Lithuania's defence system is based on the concept of "total and unconditional defence" mandated by Lithuania's National Security Strategy. The goal of Lithuania's defence policy is to prepare their society for general defence and to integrate Lithuania into Western security and defence structures. The defence ministry is responsible for combat forces, search and rescue, and intelligence operations.

Soon after restoration of independence, Lithuania applied for NATO membership in January 1994. Together with another six Central and Eastern European countries, Lithuania was invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the 2002 Prague summit and became a member of the Alliance in March 2004. Lithuania entered NATO on full-fledged rights immediately after the procedures of joining the North Atlantic Treaty were completed and acquired rights to participate in the political decision-making process of the Alliance. Integration into the military structures of NATO became a long-term task of Lithuanian Armed Forces. Mechanised Infantry Brigade "Iron Wolf" was affiliated to the Danish Division on the basis of agreements signed by Denmark and Lithuania in August 2006. Lithuanian Armed Forces started to boost ability of the Brigade to cooperate with the forces of other NATO members. As Lithuania and the other Baltic states do not have capabilities to secure their airspace, fighter jets of NATO members were deployed in Zokniai airport near the city Šiauliai to provide cover for the Baltic states airspace as soon as Lithuania acquired membership in the Alliance.