Meet Captain Boris, who stands ready to defend his Ally, Lithuania
Captain Boris serves in the Régiment de Marche du Tchad, a French Army infantry regiment made up of marine forces that contributes to NATO’s enhanced forward presence in Lithuania. There, he commands around one hundred infantry troops.
8 am. The alarm is raised. In the fictitious scenario of Exercise Iron Wolf 2020, foreign troops have made a foray into the territory of Lithuania, one of NATO’s member states. Captain Boris and his soldiers are preparing for a high-intensity fight against a determined enemy.
“A few hours after the alert, our whole multinational battle group, made up of eight Allied nations¹, is ready for action; we are impatient to start our counter-offensive”, explains Captain Boris. The orders from Lieutenant-Colonel Peer Papenbroock, the German commander of the battalion, are clear: to deploy as quickly as possible to meet the enemy and conduct a counter-offensive.
Intense clashes break out in rapid succession, and the enemy is pushed back. The mission consists in attracting them to a town and containing them there so that another Ally, a German company, can counter-attack on their flanks. The various orders are given by radio. “The first day of fighting has been a success. The soldiers are proud and we have fulfilled our mission”, says Captain Boris.
The next few days are also intense, with alternating defensive and offensive phases. The multinational battle group troops take turns as reserve components. This gives the commander forces that can be rapidly deployed in the event of an emergency.
And at last, the long-awaited day has arrived: the final offensive. “This time the commander has tasked us with seizing the last pocket of enemy resistance”, explains Captain Boris. The soldiers have been gearing up since yesterday, and the leaders have been reviewing the offensive manoeuvre over and over, in minute detail. “When the attack is launched, in close coordination with our German and Dutch Allies who are supporting us, we advance, our hearts thumping, driven by the thrill of the fight and the desire to make the mission a success.” The battle is won and the enemy neutralized.
After 10 days of arduous fighting, combined Exercise Iron Wolf 2020, led by Lithuania, ended on 17 November 2020. Over 3,500 soldiers from 14 NATO countries3 took part. The main objective was to contribute to enhancing interoperability between the various countries in the multinational battle group to jointly defend their Ally, Lithuania.“Now we need to draw lessons from this tremendous experience”, says Captain Boris.
NATO’s enhanced forward presence: defending Allies in the event of aggression
At Rukla camp in Lithuania, Captain Boris cooperates with German, Belgian, Czech, Icelandic, Luxembourg, Dutch and Norwegian forces who are also part of NATO’s forward presence.2
“My aim is to contribute to ensuring France’s presence alongside our Lithuanian Allies”, explains Captain Boris. “We have to show them that we are truly present, in a preventive and defensive Allied mechanism steered by NATO”. The French detachment is mostly made up of fighters – infantry, tank crew and artillery – but also logistics experts, i.e. about 300 soldiers in total. “We have wheeled armoured combat vehicles, but also Leclerc tanks, antitank missiles, assault rifles and other small arms”, says Captain Boris.
At Rukla camp, Captain Boris particularly enjoys the cooperation and friendship between the Allied armed forces. “The friendship is genuine. Each Ally is keen to support their counterparts as best as they can. It is obvious that we share a common culture and are part of a common Alliance as our procedures are relatively similar”. “I am happy and proud to take part in this mission. Our Allies can count on us”.
- Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway.
- NATO’s enhanced forward presence consists of four multinational battle groups deployed on a rotational basis in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland since 2017. The groups are led respectively by the UK, Canada, Germany and the USA and are permanently present in the host nations.
- The eight Allies of the multinational battle group, as well as troops and components from Denmark, Spain, Italy (Air Force), Lithuania, Poland and the UK.