A 60-strong detachment of mortar specialists from the Czech republic has joined NATO’s enhanded Forward Presence (eFP) force in Latvia, the Czech Ministry of Defense has confirmed.
“A mortar platoon of 60 soldiers from the 71st Mechanised Battalion left their home base in Hranice for Latvia on 14th June to form the initial part of NATO’s enhanced forward presence (eFP) in the Baltic states.
The mortar platoon will be incorporated into the Canada-led multinational battalion in Latvia that consists Albanian, Italian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Polish military units alongside their Latvian hosts. The NATO eFP battalion will rotate every six months.
It has already been reported that in the second half of this year, 152 soldiers from the Slovak Armed Forces will join NATO’s expanded presence in Latvia.
A second Czech unit to serve within the eFP will be a reinforced mechanized company from the 41st Mechanised Battalion consisting of 230 soldiers which will be deployed to Lithuania at the beginning of July. The Czech soldiers will be equipped with the Pandur armoured fighting vehicles and supported by a platoon of engineers, as well as a logistics and medical unit.
Czech Minister of Defence Karla Slechtova commented: “By participating in the enhanced forward presence mission in the Baltics, we are fulfilling our commitment to our allies. Being part of this international environment will be a unique experience for our Czech soldiers, and I am pleased to see that the Hranice mortar platoon soldiers are very well prepared for their service abroad.”
The creation of the allied eFP is the result of the decision taken at the NATO Warsaw Summit in July 2016. It led to the formation of four task forces to help strengthen the security of the region; each task force being part of a reinforced battalion currently deployed. The US-led task force is in Poland, the battalion in Latvia is led by Canada, the Lithuanian one by Germany, and Great Britain is lead nation in Estonia.
The battlegroup has already been in operation for a year, a fact noted by Canada.