On the way to Lithuania

Reinforcements leave Jägerbrück

Reinforcements leave Jägerbrück

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On 15 February at noon, soldiers stood ready at Greifen Barracks with heavy combat rucksacks on their backs and weapons in their hands. “We have just received permission to move, and the soldiers are getting ready to leave,” the responsible officer explained. The column formations of reinforcements for NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) Battle Group in Lithuania were leaving their staging area in Jägerbrück.

An armored transport vehicle on the highway

Army soldiers leave the staging area in Jägerbrück The reinforcements for the Enhanced Forward Presence battle group head towards Lithuania.

Bundeswehr/Mario Bähr

This had been preceded by an enormous organisational effort, the officer in charge said. All movement credits and bids as well as transit permissions had been coordinated with and approved by Poland. The deployment of forces was thus on schedule. The convoys that had arrived in Jägerbrück less than 24 hours ago were now leaving the staging area.

Soldiers stow their equipment in the armored transport vehicles.

The soldiers have completed all preparations and are about to leave.

Bundeswehr/Mario Bähr

Artillery and reconnaissance forces left first. Smaller groups merged into larger ones. A total of 38 vehicles in two groups started the movement towards Lithuania. At 1:30 pm, Major Mike Michael* gathered his soldiers at the vehicles in the technical area of the barracks. All luggage, weapons and food had been safely stowed on the vehicles. The armored transport vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles and trucks had been standing in the staging area, fully fueled and ready to go since last night. The rest phase was over.

Code names, radio frequencies, vehicle distances

Soldiers listen to a briefing in front of the vehicles.

Although it is routine, the tension is clearly evident. The company commander gives the movement order.

Bundeswehr/Mario Bähr

“We will roll out in exactly 30 minutes”, Michael instructed his men and women. The company commander gave the movement order. The commanders of each vehicle gathered closely around the company commander. He specified code names, speeds, vehicle distances, radio frequencies, routes, and many other important points for the 1000 kilometers ahead. Listening carefully, everyone was familiar with the procedure but nevertheless tense. The commander concluded his briefing with a simple “Any questions?”.

The men returned to their vehicles and informed their crews. Only a few minutes later, the engines were started, the headlamps were turned on, and the rotating lights on the large combat vehicles called attention to their actual size. The command vehicle rolled out of Greifen Barracks towards Poland at a walking pace – all others followed suit. The reinforcements for NATO’s EFP battle group made their way through Torgelow towards the highway and then moved on to the Polish border and finally to Rukla in Lithuania.

Other formations from the Jägerbrück staging area followed at predefined distances.

*Names changed

Road movement about to start

  • A soldier standing at the open door of a wheeled armored fighting vehicle

    The Fennek light armoured reconnaissance vehicle is a main system of the reconnaissance forces. Soldiers make final preparations before moving towards Lithuania.

    Bundeswehr/Mario Bähr
  • A soldier squats on the roof of a vehicle to check equipment.

    All vehicles are thoroughly checked by technical personnel prior to the long road movement.

    Bundeswehr/Mario Bähr
  • Several armored transport vehicles roll through a barracks gate

    The reconnaissance forces are the first to move. The armoured transport vehicles roll out of Jägerbrück staging area toward Lithuania at 2 pm.

    Bundeswehr/Mario Bähr
  • Several different military vehicles drive on one lane of the highway, one after the other.

    The large formations make their way on the highway towards Lithuania.

    Bundeswehr/Mario Bähr
by René Hinz