This Saturday, June 17, the closing community engagement event of the Mighty When United cycle of NATO-themed events will take place on the lawn by the White Bridge of Vilnius. The cycle opened with the exhibition celebrating Lithuania’s 19th anniversary as a member of NATO at the Vilnius City Wall Bastion, visited Kelmė and Prienai towns, and now returns to Vilnius with a bang. It is the culmination of community engagement events held ahead of the NATO Summit in Vilnius on Jul 11–12.
“Beyond any doubt, the NATO Summit in Vilnius is the most important international event Lithuania will host in the entire period since the independence was re-established. The attention of the whole world will be fixed on a place just 30 kilometers away from the eastern border of NATO, the capital of Lithuania, in mid-July. This is more than symbolic, it is critical for the security of the entire region. We want every citizen of Lithuania to be fully aware of the weight of this historical occasion and to feel as part of the most powerful defensive alliance in the world – and embrace with delight the unity and solidarity built between Lithuania and the Allies over the 19 years of Lithuania’s membership in the Alliance,” Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas says.
The Mighty When United NATO festival aims to familiarize the society with the Allied forces deployed in Lithuania, the state-of-the-art equipment and weaponry they bring along, and to invite a discussion about the meaning of NATO to the region and Lithuania, the civic spirit and the principle of total defence, as well as to address the importance of the NATO Summit taking place in Vilnius.
NATO troops, most advanced equipment and weaponry
The space by the White Bridge will be taken up by formations of the NATO Allied troops currently deployed to exercise in Lithuania. Residents and guests of Vilnius will be able to see the equipment the U.S. Battalion has brought along, an Abrams tank and a Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, also, a Marder infantry fighting vehicle, Patria personnel carrier and a Fennek reconnaissance vehicle from the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group arsenal. The Lithuanian Armed Forces will display a Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicle, PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer, Joint Light tactical Vehicle, NASAMS air defence systems, and more items of military equipment. Everyone in the audience of the event by the White Bridge will be welcome to talk to Lithuanian and Allied troops, view the different light infantry gear and equipment.
Viewers will be invited not only to see NATO weapons, the interior of the Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicle or try on the chair of PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer operator, but also play basketball, volleyball, table-tennis with NATO servicemembers and or challenge the Speaker of the Parliament in a chess simultaneous exhibition. The matches will foster the feeling of community between the military and the civilians through sports.
Stage and aerial programme
The Mighty When United festival will kick off on the White Bridge with a parade of tri-colors and NATO flags. Immediately after, the audience will be welcomed by a synchronized “Wing to Wing” aerobatic performance of the ANBO three aircraft group which will paint the skies above Vilnius in the colors of the Lithuanian flag. Group pilotage is one of the most difficult elements in flying that requires the pilots to be highly skilled: the distance between the wings of the aircraft in a group flight can range down to just a few meters while the speed and spatial positions are ever-changing. At the end of the event aircraft of the Portuguese Air Force NATO Baltic Air Policing Detachment will also soar in their F-16s.
The event will invite the audience to avail of a compelling debate programme. Famous public figures, journalists, political scientists will discuss public resilience in the age of technology, the role of citizens in national defence, and the meaning of the NATO Summit in Vilnius. The debates will be moderated by musician and rifleman Gabrielius Liaudanskas Svaras.
Throughout the event, Lithuanian musical bands (Baltasis Kiras, ba., Monika Liu, and many more) representing a range of musical styles, from lyrical to alternative rock, will be playing on the main stage.
The event programme also offers interactive children and whole family entertainment options.
Hosted by Rolandas Mackevičius
Moderated by Gabrielius Liaudanskas-Svaras
11:00–11:10 Opening of the festival, announcement of the start of sports events
11.00–19.00 NATO military equipment and weaponry display, State Border Guard SAREX helicopter display, interactive and educational activities
11.00–16.00 Sports matches: basketball, beach volleyball, table tennis
11:10–11:20 ANBO aerobatic team performance
11:20–11:45 Performance by Ritmas Kitaip band
11:45–12:00 Parade on the White Bridge: Lithuanian Armed Forces Band, NATO and Lithuanian flags
12:00–12:15 Official event opening. Welcome addresses by
Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen
Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas
12:15–12:20 Presentation of the event programme, NATO military equipment and weaponry displays and educational activities
12:30 Chess simultaneous exhibition hosted by Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen
12:20–12:40 Small but Strong PI display of drones
12:50–13:15 Panel on Public Resilience in the Age of Technology – Mission (Im)Possible?
Panelists: Lukas Andriukaitis, cofounder of Pilietinio Atsparumo Iniciatyva PI, Maj Tomas Balkus, representatives of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Strategic Communication Department, Jurga Bakaitė, LRT reporter
13:15–14:00 Musical performance by Jurgis Bruzga and the Big Band
14:00–14:15 Small but Strong PI presentation of drones
14:20–14:50 Panel on Defence of the State – Our or Armed Forces’ Business?
Panelists: Lt Col Linas Idzelis, Commander of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union; Rita Miliūtė, LRT reporter and anchor;
14:50–15:20 Musical performance by Baltasis Kiras
15:20–15:30 Presentation of entertainment and educational activities at the event
15:30–16:00 Panel on Eve of the NATO Summit: What to Expect
Panelists: Arvydas Anušauskas, Minister of National Defence; Kęstutis Budrys, Chief National Security Advisor to the President of the Republic of Lithuania; Dr. Margarita Šešelgytė, Director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University.
16:00–16:20 Presentation of prizes to winners of sports events
16:20–17:20 Musical performance
17:20–18:00 Musical performance by Monika Liu
18:00–19:00 Musical performance by ba.
19:00 Fly-past by the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission fighter aircraft
Sports events with NATO military and audience teams 11:00 to 16:00:
Beach volleyball 2×2
Table tennis 1×1
Chess. Simultaneous exhibition with V. Čmilytė-Nielsen
Event organized by the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania
Partners: Lithuanian Armed Forces, NATO Allies in Lithuania, City Council of Vilnius
Media partnership: LRT
Photo credit: MoD / A. Pliadis
Media contact: Agnė Žekonytė, MoD Strategic Communication and Public Relations Department, mob: +370 658 78 599 , e-mail: [email protected]