On August 30 Camp Herkus was inaugurated, based at the General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area at Pabradė, it already accommodates the United States rotational troops deployed to Lithuania. The new infrastructure is tailored to ensure proper training and living conditions and expand the capacity to rotate more U.S. military personnel through the country.
“I am very pleased to welcome already the fourth consecutive rotation of the U.S. battalion to Lithuania. We are deeply grateful to the United States for the solidarity that they have been showing to us for many years already, and especially today, as we are facing new challenges at the eastern border of NATO. I would like to emphasize that the U.S. troops presence and training with the NATO enhance Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania is the best deterrence against Russia there can be. The closeness of Lithuanian-U.S. force cooperation has already been tested in such complex missions as Afghanistan too. We also appreciate the U.S. assistance in our successful efforts to evacuate the Afghan translators who had worked with the Lithuanian military. And so today we are inaugurating a new base for U.S. and other allies. We wish this camp to become second home to the U.S. forces because it is our priority to make sure that our allies can have proper conditions to maintain their readiness and live while here with us,” says Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas.
“We are marking the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of comprehensive diplomatic relations with Lithuania this year, on September 6. Lithuania is one of the closest America’s friends and allies that has demonstrated the strength of its commitments to the collective security on a number of times over the years. I am happy to welcome here the 3-66 Armor Battalion, or Burt’s Knights. They are the consecutive fourth armour battalion that has been deployed to train and reside in Pabradė over my term as the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania. We are grateful to Lithuania for providing excellent Host Nation Support for all the U.S. rotations and training forces here and in all the Lithuania. This impressive new Camp Herkus is fully financed by the Lithuanian Government and shows how strong our mutual relations are. Despite the challenges faced by both countries, the U.S. engagement in the region and with Lithuania is already very strong and it is getting much much stronger,” underscored U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania HE Robert Gilchrist.
If such a necessity arises, Camp Herkus will be used to accommodate not only U.S. troops but also other allies’ forces. U.S. military personnel used to be deployed to those areas specifically where the training was conducted before this infrastructure was built.
“Inauguration of Camp Herkus is a symbol and a declaration of our readiness and our effort to give better conditions for U.S. forces in Lithuania. Of course it is true that I am certain it is not the buildings and infrastructure that make the difference. We are prepared to be equal partners n joint training, experience sharing , as well as in the completion of tasks. I am positive that the Lithuania people welcome the U.S. decision to have forces here,” said Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys.
Camp infrastructure comprises over 200 accommodation containers, office premises, parking lots, mess hall. Two basketball and volleyball courts, a gym and a leisure centre, as well as other necessary premises, such as showers, auxiliary, etc., are prepared for servicemembers’ off-duty activities. When the extension of the camp infrastructure is done as planned in 2022, there will be even more living quarters on the territory. The EUR 7 million worth project covers installation, acquisitions, services, engineering infrastructure, and other works. All the funding for the camp for allied armed force deployments has been done from the state budget.
“We are excited about the great welcome we have received from the Lithuanian Armed Forces, especially the Iron Wolf Brigade. The living conditions at Camp Herkus are really good as compared to where I have ever stayed in away from home and the Pabradė training facility is premier. Since the 3-66 Battalion has deployed not long ago, we have already tied in with our Lithuanian allies and fully integrated with the Lithuanian army and the NATO enhance Forward Presence Lithuania, our kind hosts are superbly qualified and combat-ready. We hope to further learn from them while building even stronger interoperability and relations. Aside from the training, we have already launched strong community relations and had an opportunity to explore this beautiful country. My troops and I are excited to be able call Lithuania home for these several months,” Commander of the current U.S. rotation Lt Col Paul Godson said. His troops currently deployed at Camp Herkus are the current rotation of the U.S. heavy battalion, over 500 service members with the 1st Infantry Division, U.S. Army. The U.S. battalion has brought several dozens of tactical equipment: M1A1 Abrams tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, other support equipment. Just like the previous rotation, the current battalion is planned to stay in Lithuania for 9 months.
The American rotational forces are training in Lithuania as part of the U.S. Army Europe Operation Atlantic Resolve in the eastern part of the Alliance. It is a demonstration of U.S. collective defence commitments to NATO allies in ensuring security in Europe. U.S. Army troops have been rotating and training in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe since spring 2014.
Adaptation of infrastructure to the needs of allied troops deploying to Lithuania is a an ongoing process, it includes new infrastructure building projects at Pabradė, Rukla and Air Force Base while at the same time the infrastructure necessary for military mobility in Lithuania is also improved.
The United States actively contributes to the defence of our region with military personnel, equipment and funds. Financial assistance is rendered annually to enhance the defensive capacity and military infrastructure of European countries, including Lithuania, under the European Deterrence Initiative. The United States is also one Lithuania’s main partners in weaponry procurement.
Photo credits: MoD/A.Pliadis