RUKLA, Lithuania - An inauguration ceremony, welcoming the newly arrived Belgian and Luxembourg soldiers for the 4th rotation of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Lithuania, was held at the Lithuanian Armed Forces Training Regiment in Rukla on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.
Belgium is reinforcing the NATO eFP mission in Lithuania with a Mechanized Infantry Company of 250 men, formed by the Belgian 1st/3rd Battalion of Lancers. While, a Luxembourg reconnaissance Platoon reinforces the Belgian Mechanized Infantry Company, with a contribution of 25 soldiers from the Luxembourg Army.
As guests of honour, the Ambassador of Luxemburg to Lithuania, H.E. Mr. Conrad Bruch, the Honorary Consul of Luxembourg, Mr. Ramunas Garbaravicius and for the Lithuanian Iron Wolf Brigade the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Aurelijus Motiejunas attended the event.
In his speech, the Commander of eFP Battlegroup Lithuania, Lieutenant Colonel René Braun, expressed his satisfaction that the 4th Rotation of the eFP Battlegroup is now finally complete, and stressed the fact that with now seven contributing nations NATO sends a strong signal of commitment to the security and safety of the Baltic NATO partners and Lithuania in particular.
He put the very reasoning of eFP in a wider historical context: "In 2014 in Wales and in 2016 in Warsaw, Lithuania asked for support - since January 2017 the international Battlegroup of NATO is deployed in Rukla as an enhanced Forward Presence in rotating cycles. I like to compare this to the French, British and American commitments to West Berlin from 1945 to 1989. In these 44 years NATO-forces might have been inferior and not ready to face an attack of conventional forces, but through disciplined conduct, credible will to defend and unbroken passion for the fight for freedom they were also responsible that West Berlin was never attacked by regular forces."
The Senior National Representatives of Belgium and Luxembourg to the Battlegroup, Major Cedrik Bougeois and Lieutenant Gilles David, led their contingents onto the parade ground and handed over the flags of their countries to the commander. This act symbolised the official assignment of the Belgian / Luxembourg contribution to the Battlegroup. In his address, Lieutenant Colonel Motiejunas welcomed the new partners in the name of the Iron Wolf Brigade and thanked for their commitment to the common effort to strengthen the defence of Lithuania and the eastern NATO flank.
Story by enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania Public Affairs Office