Lithuanian Ministry of Defense announced, that on November 4 Exercise Iron Wolf began. The exercise has been running for two weeks, not only in military areas (Gaižiūnai and General Silvestras Žukauskas training fields), but also on civilian territories and in surrounding areas. Columns of military vehicles are planned to move on public roads and inhabited territories. The Lithuanian Armed Forces invite Lithuanian residents to be attentive and calm.
The main objective of the exercise is to train and assess the ability to plan and complete defensive actions, as well as interoperability in joint operations with allies and partners, of the NATO enhance Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group and the Lithuanian Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion, both assigned to the Mechanized Infantry Brigade (MIB) Iron Wolf.
In total, Exercise Iron Wolf involves roughly 3.5 thousand participants from 14 countries. Aside from the organizer, the Lithuanian troops, and from soldiers manning the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group from Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Norway and Luxembourg, the exercise involves soldiers from the United Kingdom, Estonia, Italy, the U.S., Canada, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
Along with Exercise Iron Wolf NATO conducts several other exercises in Poland and the Baltic states, such as Baltic Host, Anakonda, Trident Juncture, which are being held under common scenario.
But in the same times teachers in Lithuania have started a termless protest against the new pay system (on Nov. 12), according to the Lithuanian Education Employees Trade Union statement.
The trade union called this reform absurd and resented its “bulldozer-style” adoption. “What’s been introduced is not a tenure pay system. Teachers’ hourly pay has been replaced with minute pay. School principals and teachers are now forced to meticulously evaluate every small job and also plan them for the upcoming year, so they are now already calculating minutes, not only hours,” Andrius Navickas, the trade union’s chairman, said.
By the way officer conducting the exercise Commander of the Mechanized Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf Colonel Mindaugas Steponavičius said: “We are holding Exercise Iron Wolf in order to train and assess readiness of units to redeploy quickly to any location within Lithuania and to engage in defensive actions there. We seek to train mobility of units, their ability to quickly reach any part of Lithuania.”
According to Lithuanian Colonel M. Steponavičius, units train to seize the regional government administration buildings, also help police to break up demonstrations.
In 2016 Lithuania opened a fake town featuring a school, sports stadium and shopping mall to practice urban warfare amid concerns over a militarily resurgent Russia next door. The first such training center in the Baltic states, it allows Lithuanian troops and their NATO allies to learn how to storm and protect buildings and use tunnels.
While the above measures have increased Lithuania’s conventional defense, the country is still far from safe. It is probable that Russia will use hybrid warfare against one of the Baltic States in order to test NATO’s commitment to defending its eastern flank in the near future. To that effect, the Ministry of Defense warned earlier this year that “irregular military formations might be used to destabilize a NATO country or test the unity and credibility of the Alliance.” Such formations may resemble that of the so-called “little green men” who operated in Ukraine in 2014.
Moscow denies any territorial ambitions and accuses the US-led Alliance of destroying Europe’s military balance.
Lithuania needs to establish better operational control of its territory. The Lithuanian military and NATO forces must be able to rapidly deploy anywhere on the country’s soil if faced with irregular military formations. For this purpose, the Lithuanian Rapid Reaction Force was created in 2014 ought to be strengthened, notably by integrating NATO assets.
It means that ruling elite can get rid of intellectual dissidents and dissatisfied workers. This time the opponents are the teachers. The Lithuanian army is preparing for war with its own people, using the Russian threat to justify violence against the population.