Soldiers of NATO allies to take part in Public and Military Unity Day in Alytus

Soldiers deployed by NATO allies in Lithuania will introduce themselves alongside Lithuanian troops to the public of Lithuania at the Partisan Honouring, Military and Public Unity Day which will be held in Alytus, the town in southern part of Lithuania, on 19 May. Residents and guests of Alytus will be able to view combat equipment of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group, try on gear of different NATO allies’ militaries, become familiar with activities of NATO units deployed in Lithuania and win prizes.

Depending on weather conditions, fighter aircraft of the Portuguese Air Force deployed to the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States will conduct a flypast to announce the celebration in Alytus open at midday on Saturday. Currently the airspace over the eastern part of the Alliance is guarded by Portugal’s and Spain’s air contingents with F-16s and Eurofighter Typhoons. They have been conducting the 47th rotation of the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States since the beginning of May.

NATO allies have been providing protection of the Baltic airspace for 14 years, since Lithuania’s full-fledged membership in the world’s strongest military Alliance began on 29 March 2004.

Participants of the celebration in Youth Park, Alytus, on Saturday will be able to familiarise and talk to soldiers of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group stationed in Rukla.

“It is great to be here in Lithuania. We, and that means the Germans, the Dutch, the Croatians, the French, the Norwegians, and the others under my command, have been training hard with the soldiers from the Lithuanian Armed Forces for months. All of them, men and women, have become good friends in that time. Now, the troops and I are really looking forward to meeting the citizens, here in Alytus and elsewhere. On Saturday, we want to spend a great day with them before we prepare for the big exercise coming up in June. So, see you there!”, Commander of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania Lieutenant Colonel of the German Armed Forces Wolf Rüdiger Otto says.

Soldiers of the NATO eFP will bring to the celebration in Alytus and show to the public a part of the combat equipment they have brought for training in Lithuania – AMX Leclerc tank of the French Armed Forces, CV90 fighting vehicle of the Dutch soldiers, Patria and Boxer armoured vehicles used in Croatian and German militaries, also, combat support equipment, such as military trucks, etc.

NATO eFP members will also show what soldiers from different NATO allies wear in Lithuania – guests of the celebration will be able to feel like a NATO eFP member as soldiers will not only demonstrate gear of different countries but will also invite to try on vests, helmets, magazines, etc.

The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group deployed in Rukla since early January 2017 is integrated into the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf and training intensely alongside Lithuanians to make sure everyone is ready to protect the eastern flank of NATO against any threat.

Aside from active daily service, NATO troops also take part in different cultural events, public and social activities in local communities, visit schools and organisation in Jonava district where they are based.

Currently the multinational rotational unit is manned by Belgium, Croatia, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Germany, and a representative from Iceland. The NATO Battle Group deployed for deterrence and defensive purposes will be joined by soldiers from the Czech Republic in summer later this year.

Just like in the previous years, the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) team will take part in Partisan Honouring, Military and Public Unity Day. It is a small NATO headquarters operating in Vilnius since September 2015. NFIU members say that Partisan Honouring, Military and Public Unity Day offers them an opportunity to meet with Lithuanian people and tell them more about the mission and role of NATO in Lithuania. The task of the unit is to facilitate deployment of NATO forces, including the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, in Lithuania and to ensure it has a vital element – public support. Saturday the NFIU team will stand ready to answer questions of Alytus residents and guests at the celebration. Everyone will be able to find out more about NFIU activities, take part in a small NATO quiz, play basketball, and will prizes, at the NFIU stand at Youth Park in Alytus.

“It is important that the public has the opportunity to meet the military. Security is a joint effort: the military is stronger when it is supported by society. As we live and work in Lithuania with our families, it is privilege to be part of this Lithuanian event”, Commander NATO Force Integration Unit, Danish Colonel Jakob Larsen says.

Participants of the celebration will also be able to familiarise with the activity of the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence operating in Vilnius for six years now. Experts from 10 NATO and partner nations will tell about, and also demonstrate one of the largest projects implemented by the Centre – the Hybrid Power Generation System for the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The system uses traditional fuel and renewable energy sources to supply electricity power to a unit of up to a battalion size.

“We eagerly wait to meet the residents and guests of Alytus to tell them how this modern hybrid system works, and colleagues from the Lithuanian armed ores Logistics Command will help us,” representatives of the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence say. The audience will also be invited to talk to the experts of the Centre, find out more about the topicalities in renewable energy area, take part in games and quizzes, win prizes.

By tradition, the Lithuanian Armed Forces, NATO allies deployed in Lithuania and friends of the Armed Forces participate in Partisan Honouring, Military and Public Unity Day celebrated on the third weekend of May in tribute of partisan fights, to give back to the public and present history, activities, weaponry, and equipment of the armed forces. This year the main event is taking place in Alytus.

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