NATO battlegroups exercise across Baltic borders
The Czech contingent of NATO’s enhanced forward presence battlegroup in Lithuania recently took part in exercise Namejs 2018 in Latvia, along with around 10,000 participants from 13 NATO Allies. The exercise concluded on 2 September 2018, after two action-filled weeks of training, focusing on the mobility, readiness and interoperability of NATO and national forces. It was the largest exercise of its kind ever conducted in Latvia and took place in every region of the country.
The Czech Mechanised Infantry Company brought around 180 troops and 15 Pandur-II Infantry Fighting Vehicles from Lithuania to Latvia to take part in various exercise scenarios. “Like we predicted, the constant maneuvering from one place to another, which our role in the exercise required, was one of our main challenges, but the troops did very well,” said LtCol Jiří Líbal, commander of the Czech unit in Lithuania. “Our troops were mostly playing the opposing forces, engaging defensive units in built up areas, forests and other terrains. Among other tasks, we engaged the Latvian National Reservist Units and the NATO battlegroup in Latvia in their defensive positions,” he added.
The Commander of the Joint Headquarters of Latvian Army, Lt. Gen. Leonids Kalnins, underlined that the training impressed him: “I personally witnessed that the level of tactic and combat skills of the Czech company is on a very high level”.
LtCol René Braun, Commander of NATO’s battlegroup in Lithuania, noted that the troops “did very well and it was a very useful experience both for them and our battlegroup.” He added: “This was the first time for the battlegroup to participate with a whole company in an exercise outside Lithuania. On all levels, there were a lot of lessons learned, especially in logistics and interoperability. In the end, it was a great display of unity and cooperation within the Baltic States and a common understanding of staying together and showing strength in a powerful NATO mindset.”
NATO deployed four multinational battlegroups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017. The battlegroup in Lithuania is led by Germany. LtCol René Braun commands about 1,200 troops from eight NATO Allies. The battlegroup in Latvia is led by framework nation Canada and has a similar number of troops, with contributions from nine NATO Allies. Two other battlegroups, in Estonia and Poland, are led by the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively.