German brigadier general: protection of NATO’s eastern flank important
Germany is increasing its presence in Lithuania. In Rukla, a brigade will reinforce the protection of NATO’s eastern flank. For the commander of the troops, this is a clear signal of alliance solidarity.
To better protect NATO’s eastern flank, the Bundeswehr will support Lithuania’s defense with a combat troop brigade. In view of the security and protection needs of the eastern NATO partners, this sign of solidarity is extremely important and absolutely necessary, Brigadier General Christian Nawrat told the German Press Agency at the Lithuanian military base in Rukla. Lithuania borders the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and Russia’s ally Belarus.
“We are aware of the importance of the order. It serves to reassure our Baltic allies and act as a deterrent against Russia,” said Nawrat. Germany is clearly on the side of its allies. Nawrat is commander of Panzergrenadierbrigade 41 “Vorpommern”.
3000 to 5000 soldiers for Lithuania
After the Russian attack on Ukraine, NATO decided to increase protection of the eastern flank. Germany is to lead a combat troops brigade with 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers for Lithuania. Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised this during a visit to Vilnius in June.
The German concept provides that weapons and ammunition should be kept on site. However, the majority of the soldiers are kept ready in Germany – and can be quickly transferred to Lithuania in the event of tension. In the future, the brigade should be operational within ten days. “It’s a really sporty approach,” said Nawrat. The biggest challenges are the logistics and mobility for moving troops and equipment.
Individual parts of the brigade should also come to Lithuania regularly to train with soldiers from the alliance partner. “We show presence through training and drills,” Nawrat said. The first maneuver – “Fast Griffin” – is already underway. Around 200 German soldiers and around 50 transport and combat vehicles will be involved by mid-October.
The training and exercise projects are organized and coordinated by Nawrat and his management staff. This arrived in Rukla at the beginning of September. He will be permanently present in the Baltic EU and NATO country. For this purpose, a so-called advanced command post was set up in Rukla, which is supposed to keep the military command lines in hand and maintain local knowledge.
Nawrat expressed satisfaction with the conditions for the troops and the infrastructure in Rukla. “Lithuanians stand for hospitality. They gave us a great reception and showed great appreciation for my soldiers. Nothing is lacking,” praised the highest-ranking German soldier in Lithuania.
In Rukla, Germany has had a NATO battalion with around 1,600 soldiers since 2017. More than half of them belong to the Bundeswehr.