According to the release issued by the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence, 140 Portuguese soldiers from a reconnaissance unit have been deployed within the territory of the country. These troops are to take part in the exercise, the aim of which is to reinforce the NATO’s eastern flank, starting from July this year. The equipment used by the Portuguese forces includes Pandur II and Chaimite APC’s.
The Vilnius authorities have meanwhile decided to form yet another mechanized land forces brigade (besides the “Iron Wolf” element). The unit is going to be a mechanized infantry element which is to be stationed, according to the BNS outlet, in the Western part of the country. In the beginning the new unit is to be based on the existing elements, while additional ones, including the artillery elements, are to be formed by 2021.
Creating another tactical unit within the structure of the army is an action which would bolster the defensive capabilities of the Lithuanian Armed Forces in the light of the Ukrainian crisis. Vilnius made a decision earlier to increase the defence spending budget – the raise goes up from the level of 0.8% of GDP in 2013, through 1.1% in 2015 to finally reach 2% of GDP by 2020. Additionally Lithuania wants to create quick reaction forces, elements of which should attain full combat readiness within 2 hours from receiving the first operational orders.
The Lithuanians have also made a decision to reintroduce the compulsory military service, inter alia, in order to make the structure of the Army coherent to a larger extent. Presence of the Portuguese reconnaissance unit is an element of the NATO support, within which Lithuania is going to be a place for operations of (besides the US Army elements, operating there on a continous basis) the units from Belgium and Germany.