On January 16 Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karbolis met with Assistant Secretary of Defence for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities Victorino G. Mercado visiting Lithuania. The officials discussed bilateral defence cooperation, absorption of the U.S. security assistance for developing the Baltic states’ defence capabilities, cooperation of acquisitions.
Minister underscored that Lithuanian and U.S. defence cooperation has never had the current intensity before. “The U.S. military presence in Lithuania, support in the Congress to the development of our defence capabilities – all of this demonstrates once again the U.S. commitment to the Lithuanian and Baltic security,” Minister R. Karoblis pointed out. Additional USD 175 million has been allocated for developing defence capabilities in the Baltic states in the recent U.S. Defence Budget. USD 50 million will go to air defence: development of air defence capabilities is one of the priorities in the bilateral cooperation of Lithuania and the U.S. and Lithuania works on it intensely, including acquisition of Norwegian-made NASAMS medium-range air defence systems.
In his turn, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defence V. G. Mercado praised Lithuania for fulfilling its defence commitments. “You are small but you punch above your weight,” he said.
Assistant Secretary of Defence of the U.S. V. G. Mercado will later attend the Snow Meeting organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Trakai.
The United States is Lithuania’s strategic partner and key ally for the security of the Baltic region. The U.S. actively participates in the implementation of the Assurance Measures in the Baltic states thus strengthening security and stability in the region. The strength of the U.S. commitment to the security of the Baltic states is demonstrated by numerous exercises, the U.S. battalion currently deployed in Lithuania, increasing acquisitions from the U.S., including two major projects underway – procurement of Joint Lights Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) for the Lithuanian Armed Forces and planned acquisition of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the U.S. Government.