German Army 203 Tank Battalion Prepares to Take Command of eFP Battlegroup Lithuania
German Army 203 Tank Battalion Prepares to Take Command of eFP Battlegroup Lithuania

German Army 203 Tank Battalion Prepares to Take Command of eFP Battlegroup Lithuania

The German Army soldiers with the Augustdorf-based 203 Tank Battalion capped off their preparations for the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) mission in the Baltics. The highlight of the demanding training cycle was the live-fire exercise conducted at the German Army Combat Training Centre in Letzlingen. Additionally, the event saw units and service members from Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway who will serve in Lithuania alongside the German Army. Numbering approximately 1600 soldiers, the multinational battlegroup will deploy to Rukla this summer to contribute to the security of NATO’s eastern flank. Since mid-May, the multinational battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Marco Maulbecker has undergone intensive training in the Altmark region. Soldiers from the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway have been successfully integrated into the unit. In future, the battlegroup will be reinforced by a Norwegian armoured infantry company. 203 Tank Battalion provides the bulk of forces for the 12th rotation of the multinational battlegroup in Lithuania.

A Dutch soldier aims the Gil anti-tank weapon at a target
A Dutch soldier aims the RAFAEL Gil anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) at a target. In the past the Gill has been referred to as the NT-G, the Spike as the NT-S. (Photo by Carl Schulze/Bundeswehr)

Major General Heico Hübner, Commander of 1 Armoured Division, and Brigadier General Willer had a close-up view of the exercise conducted in the Altmark region. They were able to witness the battlegroup’s level of proficiency first-hand. As the final 72-hour exercise drew to a close, Hübner remarked:”This training rotation at the Combat Training Centre was excellent. The well developed and demanding exercise scenarios were the culmination of the preparatory training undergone by 203 Tank Battalion.”

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When the soldiers of the multinational combat battalion were first brought together on 18 May, the focus lay on the key elements of the joint conduct of combat operations. The German Army Combat Training Centre offered ideal conditions for practising everything from the issuing of orders to communication via radio to actual combat. Units on exercise are supported by very experienced instructors who are on site with the soldiers and provide advice at the level of battalion commanders, company commanders or platoon leaders. The Centre’s evaluation team digitises exercise events to make them available for evaluations.

An enemy main battle tank (red team) charges and fires at the tanks of the battlegroup
An enemy main battle tank (red team) charges and fires at the tanks of the battlegroup. (Photo by Nicolai Ulbrich /Bundeswehr)

This training rotation was supervised by Brigadier General Stephan Willer, Commander of 21 Armoured Brigade “Lipperland” based in Augustdorf. Willer also praised the performance of the German unit during a “highly demanding final exercise”, stating how impressed he was with the level of dedication, motivation and proficiency exhibited by the men and women of the unit. He also found that interaction within the multinational battlegroup worked surprisingly well, and he was certain that the initial difficulties usually experienced had already been overcome. This summer, the battlegroup will deploy to the Lithuanian town of Rukla, located approximately 100 kilometres northwest of the country’s capital Vilnius, for a six-month rotation. The cohesion and combat effectiveness of the battlegroup, which is led by 203 Tank Battalion based in Augustdorf, will be further enhanced during a series of exercises and manoeuvres. The eFP mission serves to protect the Eastern European states and deter threats against the Alliance’s territory. Since its inception in 2017, the battlegroup in Lithuania has been under German command.

From a Fuchs armoured transport vehicle, Brigadier General Stephan Willer (left) and Major General Heico Hübner observe and evaluate the exercise
From a Fuchs armoured transport vehicle, Brigadier General Stephan Willer (left) and Major General Heico Hübner observe and evaluate the exercise. (Photo by Nicolai Ulbrich/Bundeswehr)

NATO has enhanced its presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, with four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These battlegroups, led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States respectively, are multinational, and combat-ready, demonstrating the strength of the transatlantic bond. Their presence makes clear that an attack on one Ally will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance. NATO’s battlegroups form part of the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence in a generation. The Lithuania multinational battalion battle group is under the command of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf of the Lithuanian Land Forces and based in Rukla. The battalion has a headquarters company, three to four combat companies and various support units. The battle group is led by Germany. Each rotation lasts six months.

German Army 203 Tank Battalion Prepares to Take Command of eFP Battlegroup Lithuania
Throughout the 72 hours of the final exercise, the vehicle crews face a set of challenging scenarios. This marks the highlight of the preparation for the deployment to Lithuania. (Photo by Nicolai Ulbrich/Bundeswehr)

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office / Original story by Nicolai Ulbrich and Martin Waltemathe (German Armed Forces)

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