Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas met with U.S. Congressmen Adam Smith, Rick Larsen and Steven Palazzo on a visit on Lithuania Thursday: they discussed the U.S. assistance rendered to Lithuania and the positive effect it had on developing Lithuanian capabilities.
Minister underscored to the guests that the U.S. force presence in the region was an effective deterrent against Russia and Belarus. A. Anušauskas upheld he had a goal to ensure that such presence was persistent. In its turn, Lithuania continues working on service conditions for U.S. troops in anticipation.
“We are beyond pleased to have the new battalion deployed in Lithuania prior to Exercise Zapad. The regional security situation is very tense and U.S. troop presence in Lithuania at the time of Exercise Zapad will significantly increase our security. We are happy to see American soldiers in Lithuania again. In our turn, we are working on the conditions in Lithuania so that the U.S. forces would like to settle in and U.S. presence would be persistent,” said A. Anušauskas.
“We are grateful to the U.S. for the assistance in developing Lithuanian military capabilities. With you we are able to develop cornerstone capabilities in Lithuania, as well as in the entire region, at a quicker pace. We are also extremely serious about strengthening our Armed Forces: at least 2% of GDP go to defence and the amount is planned to be increased to 2.2% of GDP by 2024,” Minister added at the meeting with the U.S. Congressmen.
After the meeting with Minister the guests proceeded to Pabradė to visit U.S. troops serving in Lithuania accompanied by Vice Minister of National Defence Žilvinas Tomkus.
A. Smith is the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress and R. Larsen also serves on the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman S.Palazzo serves on the House Committee on Appropriations
The United States is Lithuania’s strategic partner and key ally for the security of the Baltic region. The U.S. actively participates in the implementation of the Assurance Measures in the Baltic states, thus strengthening regional security and stability. The country contributes soldiers, equipment and finance to the defence of our region.
The U.S. assistance plays a crucial role in Lithuania’s defence capability development. Air defence is among the priority areas. Assistance funds are sued to procure Black Hawk multimission helicopters, JLTV armoured vehicles, un-manned aerial vehicle systems, communications and surveillance equipment, simulators, antitank weaponry and missiles, cybersecurity equipment. The U.S. also assists in the development of Rukla and Pabradė and Air Force Base in Šiauliai military infrastructure development.
The U.S. assistance is a particularly significant contribution to the Lithuanian Armed Forces modernization,it amounts to one tenth of Lithuania’s defence investment.
Photo credit: G.Maksimovic-Alkema/MoD