|International Cooperation » Bilateral Cooperation|
While developing bilateral and regional cooperation Ministry of National Defense of Republic of Lithuania has signed defensive agreements with nearly all NATO and EU member states. Moreover, agreements are made with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Holy See, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Belarus.
According to its competence Ministry also reached agreements in particular fields: classified information, mutual security, geography and cartography, military education and studies, environmental protection, academic and industrial cooperation, bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects.
Regular bilateral visits on the defense ministers, vice-ministers as well as defense policy directors level take place within the state and abroad. Bilateral political-military discussions with delegations from defense ministries of NATO and EU states are held annually. The number of bilateral cooperation meetings frequently exceeds one hundred in half a year.
Cooperation with United States
United States remains one of Lithuania`s most significant allies. Political and military assistance from United States was crucial in Lithuanian accession to NATO in 2004. Lithuania actively integrated in U.S.-led international coalition fighting terrorism.
U.S. actively participates in NATO`s reassurance measures ensuring security and stability in the Baltic region. As part of the operation “Atlantic resolve” rotational U.S. forces are deployed in Baltic States and Poland. Company of U.S. troops deployed in Lithuania is actively training with their Lithuanian counterparts.
In 2015 United States adopted a decision to preposition tanks, artillery and other military equipment in the Baltic countries, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Germany. U.S. armaments which include tanks “Abrams” and armored military vehicles “Bradley” have been transported to Lithuania prior to other Baltic States. This equipment will be used to support military exercises in the region.
In 2014 United States Congress confirmed European Reassurance Initiative, under which, 1 billion USD was assigned to the security of Baltic States, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The sponsorship allows U.S. to carry out the rotation of military forces in the region as well as intense training and U.S. investment in infrastructure and capability development of the region. 33 million USD were appropriated for Lithuanian capability building in 2015, investment in Lithuania`s infrastructure amounts to 13 million USD in 2015-2016.
U.S. has been sponsoring modernization of Lithuanian armed forces since 1995. This sponsorship is disbursed from Foreign Military Fund (FMF). During the period 1995-2015 FMF disbursed 62 million USD. Additionally two funds regarding Lithuanian armed forces’ preparation for operations in Iraq (OIF) and Afghanistan (CSF) were established.
Since 1992 under the International Military Education and Training program (IMET) more than 30 Lithuanian soldiers and civilians studied in the United States annually. Over 300 Lithuanian soldiers have graduated from various U.S. educational institutions. For educational programs in 2016 U.S. allocated 1, 2 million USD.
Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) has been actively cooperating with Lithuanian armed forces since 1993. PNG prepare courses and seminars for Lithuanian representatives also PNG soldiers participate in military exercises in Baltic States whereas Lithuanian soldiers participate in military exercises, “train-the-trainer” programs and other events in Pennsylvania. Close bilateral ties have been established between PNG and many Lithuanian armed forces institutions: Joint Headquarters, Volunteer Forces, Logistic Command, Military Medical Service, Special Forces, Air Forces, Lithuanian Armed Forces School.
Cooperation with Poland
Lithuania and Poland have long-lived historical ties with each other. Belonging to the same Baltic Sea region we are strongly interconnected by political, economic, social and cultural links. We also uphold close bilateral military cooperation.
While Lithuania was preparing to join NATO, the assistance of Poland, which had already become a member of the Alliance in 1999, was highly important. Military cooperation with Poland is still essential to strengthening of Lithuanian defense. For this reason, positive Polish-Lithuanian relations in defense and security field are being cultivated, longstanding, as well as, new military cooperation formats are being developed. One of our most successful trilateral projects with Poland is LITPOLUKRBRIG. Establishment of this formation was decided by Defense Ministers of three participant countries in Lvov (Ukraine) on 24th of July, 2015. Inauguration of LITPOLUKRBRIG headquarters took place in Lublin at the beginning of 2016. Lithuania appointed five soldiers to serve in these headquarters.
All formats of armed forces are active in cooperating with Poland in the fields of military training and participating in international operations. Also we cooperate in the procurement of defence equipment. Currently we execute acquisition of short-range air defence systems from Poland.
Poland is one of the most active NATO members, conducting Air Policing mission in the Baltics. In addition to this, Poland appointed two of its soldiers to serve in NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Vilnius.
Cooperation with Nordic countries
Since the declaration of Lithuanian independence, Nordic countries have been supporting our strategic objectives both practically and politically. Nordic countries remain close partners in strengthening the defense of the Baltic Sea region.
Lithuanian cooperation with Denmark is developed the most. These relations are based on Lithuanian Mechanized Infantry Brigade`s “Iron Wolf” affiliation with a Danish division. The LITBRIG project was designed to create deployment brigade in accordance with NATO standards that is arranged to implement operations of various extent and nature. In the ceremony that took place in Denmark on 30th of August, 2006 Lithuanian brigade was officially affiliated to Denmark`s division in this way extending Lithuanian armed forces integration in NATO military framework. Since 2007 Lithuanian military officers have served regularly at the headquarters of Denmark`s division; joint military exercises of headquarters have been held as well. During 2008-2012 period soldiers of Lithuanian tactical air attack control team, together with their Danish counterparts, were working at Denmark`s ISAF mission`s division headquarters in Helmand province of Afghanistan. Danish military personnel also contributed to Ghor Provincial Reconstruction Team led by Lithuania. Denmark is one of the most generous donors of Lithuanian armed forces. In 2005 a Lithuanian artillery battalion was formed with financial help and expertise from Denmark (LITART project). Denmark is also one of the most active NATO members, conducting Air policing mission in the Baltics region.
Lithuania is also closely cooperating with other Nordic states. Northern countries have donated a lot of military equipment to Lithuanian armed forces and trained our military officers to operate it. Nordic states remain allies that we cooperate the most in joint armament procurement. Geographical conditions of Nordic states also determine another significant cooperation sector – training soldiers to operate in winter conditions. Over the last decade, several dozen officers from all three branches of armed forces have been taking part in exercises and courses in Norway and Sweden, annually. Northern states have also actively participated in exercises on Lithuanian soil. Between 2012 and 2015, Lithuania took part in EU Nordic Battlegroup that was headed by Sweden. Battlegroup’s standby period ended in second part of 2015.
Lithuania also participates in joint Sweden-Finland initiative of Baltic Sea monitoring - SUCBAS (Sea Surveillance Co-operation Baltic Sea). Objective of monitoring Baltic Sea surface is to exchange information among military naval forces while seeking to ensure the security of Baltic region. At the moment participants of the project are Denmark, Estonia, United Kingdom, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden and Germany.
Lithuania participates in NB8 (Nordic Baltic Eight) format meetings of various levels. Discussions on regional security policies, practical cooperation fields and perspectives are being held during these meetings. Annual meetings of defense ministers, chiefs of defense and policy directors and experts are held in NB8 format, also national armament directors of NB8 nations meet once a year.
Lithuania and Baltic states are starting to cooperate even more with the new Nordic countries cooperation structure - NORDEFCO, that includes previous initiatives (NORDSUP, NORDCAPS, NORDAC). Since 2012 Baltic States have been participating in one of the two annual NORDEFCO MCC (Military Coordination Committee) meetings. At the moment, cooperation between Baltic and Northern is most vigorous in veterans support policy, joint exercises, arctic winter training, Nordic-Baltic Training Mission in Mali and Nordic-Baltic Capacity Building Initiative. Other NORDEFCO projects relevant to Lithuania are also being analyzed.
Cooperation with United Kingdom
Ever since the establishment of independent Lithuania’s armed forces, United Kingdom has been significantly contributing to the development of Lithuanian military education system. UK also provided training to Lithuanian officers as well as civilian personnel. UK was our main partner in planning and implementing defense management reform by consulting on resources and procurement administration, defense planning, management and budget formation and reserve forces formation issues. UK Royal Air Forces participates in NATO Air policing mission in the Baltic States. UK was one of the first NATO member states that sent Air policing mission reinforcement to Šiauliai in 2014.
Since the beginning of 2015 Lithuania has been taking part in creation of Joint Expeditionary Forces (JEF) led by the UK, together with other Baltic States, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. JEF is viewed as set of capabilities that are maintained in a state of high preparedness by constant training, participation in military exercises and that can be used for any kind of NATO, EU, UN operations. JEF should reach complete operational capabilities in 2018. JEF forces will have its annual cycle of exercises as well as regular Command Post Exercise (CPX) and Live Field Exercise (LIVEX). JEF will follow NATO tactical arrangement, alert level and evaluation requirements thoroughly. JEF will be part of NRF (NATO Response Forces).
In the second half on 2013 (during the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of EU) Lithuanian soldiers were part of EU Battle Group led by United Kingdom. This duty was beneficial both for Lithuanian and United Kingdom`s forces because soldiers conducted joint training exercises and deepened interaction. United Kingdom again invited Lithuania to participate in the Battle Group for the second half of 2016.
Lithuanian forces also cooperate with UK Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). Lithuania has appointed two officers to ARRC`s headquarters. Large, ARRC organized, exercises took place in the Baltic States in 2015. These exercises were meant to test NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU). UK appointed one of its officers for the position of NFIU in Vilnius.
In 2005 UK Secretary of Defence announced UK’s resolve to actively contribute to the security of the Baltic States and Poland through the TACET (Transatlantic Capability Enhancement and Training) initiative.
Cooperation with Germany
Germany has been contributing to four trilateral Baltic projects: BALTBAT (Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion), BALTRON (Baltic Naval Squadron) BALTNET (Baltic Air Surveillance Network) and BALTDEFCOL (Baltic Defense College). Lithuanian Armed Forces structures were rearranged in accordance to NATO standard models with assistance from Germany`s advisors. Germany also helped in creating a logistics system adapted to Lithuanian conditions. Dresden Military School has also significantly contributed to the establishment of Captain Courses in Lithuanian Military Academy. Since 1994 more than 300 Lithuanian soldiers have graduated from various Bundesvehr educational facilities. Germany’s Military Surplus Ammunition reserve has also provided Lithuanian armed forces with a lot of military equipment. Acquisition of 155 mm. caliber self-propelled howitzers in 2015 can be singled out as the most significant project of armament procurement from Germany’s armed forces so far. In December of 2015 Lithuanian State Defence Council took a decision to begin negotiation on procurement of 88 “Boxer” armored vehicles from Germany. It will be the largest and the most expensive purchase in the history of Lithuanian armed forces.
Germany is an active participant of NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltic States.
Germany also actively participates in military exercises that are being held in Lithuania. In addition this country contributes to NATO Reinforcement measures in the Baltic States and in 2015 has sent rotational forces for three months period. German military personnel have brought about 80 units of various military equipment with them, including: armored fighting vehicles “Boxer”, armored personnel carrier “Fuchs”. Germany is planning to continue its participation in exercises on Lithuanian soil by sending more troops as rotational forces.
Germany has appointed three officers to NFIU in Vilnius.
Cooperation with France
France is also an active NATO Air Policing mission participant. Units of France`s Armed Forces participate in military exercises in Lithuania. From 5000 allied troops that took part in NATO Article V exercises “Steadfast Jazz” that was organized in the Baltic States and Poland, 1200 participants were French. Each year Lithuanian soldiers are being invited to various courses and internships in France. Also there is cooperation between Lithuanian Military Academy and French “Saint-Cyr” academy.
Lithuania supports France actions to stabilize situation in Central African Republic (CAR). In April of 2015, for a period of one month, Lithuanian military air force transport plane C-27J “Spartan" was deployed in CAR. After Paris terror attacks at the end of 2015 Lithuania started to consider increasing Lithuanian participation in UN mission in Mali, to alleviate strain on French forces deployed there. This increase would be a response to France’s application to invoke EU Lisbon Treaty 42.7 article on fight against terrorism. Currently Lithuanian troops are participating in EU Training mission in Mali.
Cooperation with Hungary
Although Hungary geographically is quite far from Lithuania, nevertheless Lithuania has military ties with this country. Not counting U.S. Hungary was the first NATO member state to send its rotational forces to Lithuania in 2014 as NATO Reassurance measure. In 2015 Hungary also took part in NATO Air policing mission in Baltic States for the first time. A Hungarian officer is appointed to NFIU in Vilnius. Likewise a Lithuanian officer is serving in NFIU in Hungary.
Lithuania also cooperates with other Central European states employing niche capabilities possessed by these countries. For instance, Lithuanian Military Air Forces personnel, Military medics or NBC specialists receive training in Czech Republic.
Cooperation with Portugal
Portugal is one more state, which is actively contributing to implementation of NATO Reinforcement measures in Lithuania. In 2014 Portugal participated in NATO Air policing mission for the second time. Moreover, in accordance with NATO`s decision, Portuguese Military Air Forces reconnaissance plane “Lockheed P-3C CUP” was deployed to strengthen NATO Air policing mission in the Baltic States. The aircraft was based at the Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force in Šiauliai and was monitoring the Baltic Sea.
Portugal also appointed two officers to NFIU in Vilnius. While implementing NATO Readiness Action Plan (RAP) on April-July of 2015 Portugal sent its rotational forces (Reconnaissance Company – 142 military personnel) to Lithuania. These troops together with “Iron Wolf” brigade participated in military exercises.
Cooperation with the Netherlands
The Netherlands also sent their contingents to NATO Air policing mission in the Baltic States, two times. In addition until 2012 Lithuanian and Dutch armed forces had been developing structured cooperation in logistic field. Since 2012 officers of Lithuanian Military Air force are training with their counterparts in the Netherlands using their simulator to perform air space coordination actions. Dutch Navy together with other NATO member states also participates in mine-clearing exercises in the Baltic Sea.
Cooperation with Belgium
Belgium is another active participant of NATO Air policing mission in the Baltics. Belgium was the first country that sent their planes and pilots to this mission back in 2004. Belgium Combat Survival Centre also organized several combat search and rescue courses for Lithuanian Military Air Forces here in Lithuania.
Belgian Navy participates in mine-clearing operations “Open Spirit”, organized by the Baltic States. Historically Belgium has also contributed to the establishment of BALTRON by appointing officers and advisers during the creation of BALTRON. As part of NATO Reassurance measures Belgium sent reinforced rotational company to participate in the military training “Baltic Piranha” in Lithuania in 2015. Belgium also appointed an officer to NFIU in Vilnius.
Cooperation with Switzerland
Lithuania also cooperates with Switzerland – mostly in military training. Lithuanian officers also attend long-term security policy courses in Geneva Centre for Security Policy.