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We have to use the new EU defence initiatives and seek a stronger NATO-EU cooperation, Minister R. Karoblis says


On December 6 Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Ank Bijleveld-Schouten on a visit in Lithuania and Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis discussed the cooperation of their countries in the framework of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in defence area, where Lithuania proposes means for simplifying movement of forces in Europe and also strengthening response to cyber-attacks by creating rapid response groups.


“We joined the Dutch-led simplification of procedures regulating military transit in Europe because it is one of most important tasks at the moment that would significantly increase security of the Baltic states,” R. Karoblis said. Minister also thanked his Dutch counterpart for the support to the cyber security enhancement initiatives proposed by Lithuania: „We have to use the new EU defence initiatives and seek a stronger NATO-EU cooperation,” he said.


Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld-Schouten conducted the visit in Lithuania together with Chief of Defence Admiral Rob Bauer of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The guests were accompanied by Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis and Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas on a trip to the General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area in Pabradė (Švenčionys distr.) to meet with soldiers of the Netherlands serving as part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group and currently training in Filed Training Exercise Winter Wolf.


The NATO enhance Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group deployed in Lithuania since the beginning of 2017 for deterrence and defence includes roughly 250 Dutch servicemembers with their own equipment and weaponry (roughly 40 items, such as CV 90 infantry fighting vehicles, Fennek reconnaissance vehicles, Boxer, armoured recovery vehicles, etc.).


The current Dutch Armed Forces contingent in Lithuania comprises over 200 soldiers from the 13th Light Brigade, the 42nd Limburgse Jagers Armoured Infantry Regiment of the Netherlands Armed Forces deployed in Oirschot. Limburgse Jagers is the oldest infantry regiment of the Netherlands Armed Forces, since 1813. During more than 200 years this division has participated in the historical Battle of Waterloo (1815) and other battles. Also soldiers of this Dutch Armed Forces unit participated in the missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995-2003), operations in Iraq (2004) and Afghanistan (2007-2010).


The Netherlands has two more soldiers deployed in Lithuania apart from the contingent contributed to the NATO eFP, they are posted to the NATO Force Integration Unit in Vilnius.


Also, a Dutch Air Force Detachment was deployed in Šiauliai in the beginning of this year and carried out the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states with four F-16s. In total, the Netherlands took part in the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission twice and also sent one augmentation to Malbork Air Base in Poland in September-December 2014.


Right from the beginning of their deployment, Dutch soldiers have been taking part in various social projects (repaired buildings of various education institutions, orphanages, helped with park maintenance in Jonava and Švenčionys district).


Photo credits: Alfredas Pliadis (MoD)

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