The rapid increase in the number of the Lithuanian Armed Forces personnel, the introduction of new armaments, equipment and machinery into the units, the increased volumes of military training and the provision of support by the host country have highlighted the shortcomings of the existing infrastructure of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The challenges currently facing infrastructure development are due not only to the need for significant financial investment, but also to the legal and technical constraints that need to be addressed in an integrated way. To meet national and Allied needs in a timely and high-quality manner:
- The critical task is the smooth development of three new military towns (in Šilalė, Šiauliai and Vilnius), which will not only significantly increase the capabilities of the infrastructure of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, but will also allow testing a new infrastructure development model – public-private partnership, which could be applied in the future;
- The military training infrastructure must be further expanded by continuing the development of the main landfills of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and making decisions on the establishment of a new landfill;
- The development of the infrastructure of the Lithuanian Armed Forces must ensure not only quantitative needs, but also contribute to the creation of new quality in the army, therefore the focus must be on the development of viable infrastructure, gradually moving to complex development of military towns and abandoning non-viable infrastructure. Systemic solutions are needed for the rapid, high-quality and market-based development of National Defence infrastructure, such as better regulation, in order to accelerate the implementation of projects necessary for national security.
Taking into account the development of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and the deployment of allied forces in the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, the development of new infrastructure expanding accommodation, training and storage is one of the main priorities of the Ministry of National Defence. This contributes not only to the increase of the welfare and motivation of the soldiers, but also to the growth of the factors promoting the attractiveness of Lithuania as a host country in the eyes of the allies and its reputation. In total, about 200 larger or smaller infrastructure projects are currently being implemented in the national defence system.
Already this year, the construction of three military towns in Šiauliai, Šilalė and Vilnius districts is starting. Development work is being carried out in an unprecedented way through public-private partnerships. It is planned to complete the construction of the facilities and hand them over to the Lithuanian Armed Forces for the fourth quarter of 2023 (in Rokantiškės and the Seaside Town) and the first quarter of 2024 (in the Šiauliai Military Unit).
The infrastructure for the reception of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) has been launched in Pabradė. The project includes the construction of new barracks, reconstruction of the canteen, engineering networks, technical repair workshops, helicopter site, kennels, multifunctional centre, roads and parking lots, railway ramp in Pažeimenė, passenger and cargo terminal in Šiauliai, warehouse, container storage site and a multifunctional building with. At the end of 2021, the NATO Procurement and Support Agency (NSPA) launched a tender for the procurement of works. It is planned to sign a contract in the second quarter of 2022, and the completion of construction is planned for 2025.
One of the largest infrastructure projects launched by the Ministry of National Defence is the establishment of the Rūdninkai military training ground (restoration of the former training ground) in Šalčininkai district, which is needed for military training and capability development. In 2022, the Technical, Financial, Economic, Social and Environmental Study (TFESA) is being purchased, and in the autumn it is planned to apply to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the Seimas for recognition of the restoration of this landfill as a project of special state importance.
Another very important and complex project is the joint development of new long-term infrastructure between Lithuania and Germany in Rukla. It develops new infrastructure for the Mechanized Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf Artillery and Logistics Battalions and the Combat Group of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group. The project includes not only new barracks, staffs, a canteen, a sports complex, but also spaces for training and coaching, a medical point, workshops, warehouses and spaces for leisure and spiritual education. All the necessary engineering infrastructure will be created, roads will be built, etc. Preparatory work is underway this year and procurement of design services through the NATO Procurement and Support Agency (NSPA) will take place.
It should be noted that another infrastructure project will be developed with the help of Germany, which is leading the NATO battle group – a permanent logistical and military equipment service base in Rukla. The project will include repair workshops, administrative buildings, service and maintenance workshops, warehouses, a car wash, sheds, car parks, the development of engineering networks, and more. The contract is expected to be signed in the second quarter of 2022 and construction to be completed by the end of 2024.
The construction of ammunition depots in Rukla (20 units) will also start. The platforms of the LTO Aviation Base (MA3/MA4) are being completed. In parallel, the possibilities for military mobility will be improved in coordination with the Ministry of Transport for the repair and/or reconstruction of certain road/railway sections.
All these projects will significantly contribute to the strengthening of the combat power of the army, improve the conditions of support and training of the host country for the allies arriving in Lithuania.