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Lithuanian soldiers training to counter hybrid threats at exercises ‘Lightning Strike 2017’


On 28th April, begins largest national exercises this year ‘Lightning Strike 2017’, organized by Lithuanian Armed Forces. There Peacetime Operation Forces, Rapid Reaction Forces and their supporting units will have trainings in the regions of Marijampolė and Vilkaviškis.


‘National defence is our general concern to which we need to look responsibly and be ready to strike threats with blistering response. We all have a common goal - to ensure the security of the Country’, - said head of the exercises ‘Lightning Strike 2017’, Lithuanian Armed Forces Joint Chief of Staff, Major General Vitalijus Vaikšnoras, at press conference in Marijampolė on 27th April.


Major General V. Vaikšnoras emphesized that these days, armed conflicts and acts of terrorism occur in densely populated areas. To manage hybrid conflicts military troops must train in natural environment - cities, villages so that residents can see, feel and understand the commitment and efforts of Lithuanian Armed Forces to defend our country.

The main objective of exercises ‘Lightning Strike’ - to train national forces to carry out joint operations with the Ministry of Interior subordinate units and improve interaction with the state civil institutions in a case of hybrid threats. It also aims that national forces would be ready for unconventional challenges and act independently for some time, until allied support would reach the country.


The main exercise actions on 2-7th May are planned in Marijampolė and Vilkaviškis cities, where various incidents will be simulated on the streets and other public areas. Due to the patrolling troops and moving military equipment traffic in the cities may be limited. It is expected that Lithuanian military Peacetime Operation Forces and Rapid Reaction Forces together with the supporting units from Lithuanian armed forces and the Ministry of the Interior will react to imitation shooting. Moreover, representatives from municipalities of Vilkaviškis and Marijampolė will be involved in the action.


During the exercises in the regions of Marijampolė and Vilkaviškis Lithuanian Armed Forces troops will be training with the Police Department, Public Security Service and the Anti-terrorist operations team ‘Aras’ officers, the State Border Guard Service and the Fire and Rescue Department members. Moreover, representatives from municipalities and hospitals staff will be involved as well. In total about 3000 soldiers and 130 troops from obligatory initial military service, 500 officers and 200 members of civil authorities will be participating in the exercises ‘Lightning Strike 2017’. Apart from that, 2000 reserve soldiers will be called up as well.


For the third time the scenario of these exercises is drawn up in such a way that it would be possible to verify and assess how quickly and efficiently institutions of the Ministry of Interior could use Lithuanian military Peacetime Operations Forces and the Rapid Reaction Forces in order to neutralize armed subversive groups, at the same time protecting civilians and their property.


Mobilization of reserve troops

During the ‘Lightning Strike 2017’ partial mobilization exercises will also take place, where national service administrating personnel will be performing tasks in the case of mobilization. In order to fulfill exercises objectives, 12 conscription stations will be established. Reserve troops who performed military service in 2000-2012 and were retired will be involved in these trainings.


In the upcoming summer and autumn reserve soldiers will have a possibility to participate in 3 weeks iterative trainings of Lithuanian Armed Forces prepared reserve.


About ‘Lightning Strike 2017’ scenario

Various threats from hybrid war to terrorist attacks will be modelled during the course of the exercises. According to the scenario of ‘Lightning Strike 2017’ unknown armed subversive groups will pose unrest and riots in the cities, also trying to occupy local administrative objects. If units of the Ministry of Interior will not have enough capacities to suppress these unrests, Rapid Reaction Forces will be used, which should stabilize the situation. Moreover, various incidents will be simulated on the streets and other public areas in order to practice providing proper city residents security.

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