Five years of EFP

“An attack on one of us is an attack on us all”

“An attack on one of us is an attack on us all”

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For five years, NATO has been demonstrating Alliance presence in the Baltics with the Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) mission. Lieutenant General Jürgen-Joachim von Sandrart, the Commander of Multinational Corps Northeast (MNCMultinational Corps NENortheast), visited the troops on the anniversary of the multinational battle group in Lithuania. His objective was to strengthen the unity of the multinational forces in the Corps.

Two soldiers sit side by side in a room.

Lieutenant General Jürgen-Joachim von Sandrart (l.) visits Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys, the Lithuanian Chief of Defence

Bundeswehr/Multinational Corps Northeast

NATO members recently celebrated the 5th anniversary in Lithuania. “Our EFP commitment is an expression of solidarity, of determination, and of NATO’s capability to effectively defend itself”, Sandrart stated during the ceremony. For the Baltic Sea region, EFP means more than just the employment of four battle groups. NATO commitment also includes integration in brigades of the national armed forces in each country as well as military command and control by Multinational Corps Northeast, Multinational Division North, and Multinational Division Northeast.

In addition, there are the NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUNATO Force Integration Units), which constantly maintain contact with the host nations. They all ensure that the Alliance is capable of guaranteeing credible deterrence and of responding decisively to any aggression against the territories of the Alliance’s member states. According to the German General, “This ongoing and effective presence is an expression of the determination and capability of NATO to defend its territory”. Today, soldiers from more than 20 NATO states are training and exercising at the eastern flank of NATO.

Multinational and capable

Many soldiers and tanks stand on a square surrounded by white buildings.

Responsibility for the battle group in Lithuania is transferred on the 5th anniversary of the NATO mission.

Bundeswehr/Multinationales Corps Nordost

Command of the battle group was transferred from Lieutenant Colonel Hagen Ruppelt to Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Andrä during the ceremony. Corps Commander Sandrart thanked the outgoing battle group commander and his battle group for their commitment and wished his successor, Lieutenant Colonel Andrä, all the best: “Your battle group here in Lithuania – like all four battle groups in the Baltics and in Poland – is multinational and capable. This is clear proof of the strength of the transatlantic Alliance and a clear sign of unity and solidarity within our Alliance.”

Side by side with Lithuania

Two soldiers stand side by side in front of a brick-red building.

Lieutenant General von Sandrart (r.) meets Colonel Peter Nielsen, the Commander of the NATO Force Integration Unit in Lithuania.

Bundeswehr/Multinational Corps Northeast

The NATO General took the opportunity to meet Colonel Mindaugas Petkevičius, the Commander of the Iron Wolf Brigade of the Lithuanian armed forces. The NATO battle group is formally subordinate to the Lithuanian brigade. In very open talks Lieutenant General von Sandrart gained valuable insights and said: “I am very proud that we are standing side by side. The brigade not only forms the core of the Lithuanian armed forces but also constitutes Lithuania’s contribution to the collective defense of NATO.”

After meeting with Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys, the Lithuanian Chief of Defence, the Commander of MNCNE said: “Lithuania is an outstanding host nation for the men and women of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence. I very much appreciate the contribution of the Lithuanian armed forces to Multinational Corps Northeast.”

Strong troops at the northeastern flank

Many soldiers with flags march in formation on a square.

Color guards march on the parade ground in Rukla on the 5th anniversary of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence in Lithuania.

Bundeswehr/Multinational Corps Northeast

The Corps Commander also visited the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIUNATO Force Integration Units) in Lithuania. The main task of NFIUs is to promote cooperation between national armed forces and NATO High Readiness Forces during military and political crises. These small units offer comprehensive planning support when it comes to rapidly deploying Allied forces to the eastern part of the Alliance. They also work together with host nations to identify logistic networks, transport routes and supporting infrastructure. The general said in summary: “I am very proud to see how effectively NFIUNATO Force Integration Units Lithuania is fulfilling its mission.”

After days of in-depth talks and meetings in Lithuania, Lieutenant General von Sandrart was deeply impressed by the high degree of professionalism of all the people he met during the 5th anniversary of the Enhanced Forward Presence battle groups. “We have reinforced our collective defence like never before since the end of the Cold War in order to ensure credible deterrence. We have stationed four battle groups in the three Baltic states and in Poland. They are a tangible and effective contribution that clearly conveys the NATO message: An attack on one of us is an attack on us all.”

by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office