On 10 August, German Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Andrä relinquished command of NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Lithuania to German Army Lieutenant Colonel Marco Maulbecker. Under the leadership of LTC Andrä, the Battlegroup’s multinational soldiers from the 11th rotation participated in multiple exercises, strengthening the partnership with the Lithuanian Allies and demonstrating the continued commitment to protect the security of the Baltic Sea region. The German-led 11th rotation took over on 9 February 2022. At that time, Russia had been already generating tensions with more than 100,000 Russian troops massed at the border with Ukraine. 24 February 2022 marked the turning point for the European security and, consequently, the Allied soldiers in Lithuania.
“From the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the soldiers of eFP Battlegroup Lithuania were aware of the increased importance of their deployment on NATO’s eastern flank. Conducted together with our Lithuanian Allies, exercise Iron Wolf proved once again that we all have the same goal: protect every inch of NATO’s territory. We are capable and ready to fight. On behalf of all our multinational soldiers, I would like to put it clear and simple: We are here for you. You can rely on us. The Commander of the ‘Iron Wolf’ Brigade said that it is a good feeling to have friends,” LTC Andrä says. NATO’s decision to further reinforce the eastern flank required the Battlegroup to receive and integrate additional forces within hours.
Aware of the growing threat, the 11th rotation’s personnel enhanced their mental and physical readiness during numerous exercises. As planned, the Battlegroup’s training and exercise programme was broad and intensive. It started with exercise Hunter, which was followed by Rising Griffin. This two-week tactical training event integrated defensive activities at the Battlegroup level. Rising Griffin required the interaction between different forces and sub-units—from battle companies to support companies, from air defence to artillery. They all had to be commanded in a concerted manner. Translating planning processes to actions on the ground, the Battlegroup was constantly improving its manoeuvres.
Throughout their tour of duty, the soldiers exercised alongside other NATO’s eFP troops. Exercise Ajax Town saw the Allies from Battlegroups Lithuania and Latvia increasing their capabilities together. The rotation’s undoubted highlight was the certification exercise Iron Wolf. Under the tactical leadership of the Lithuanian Army ‘Iron Wolf’ Brigade, various scenarios were practised, all of which depicted a full-scale, high-intensity operation with a Lithuanian motorised infantry battalion acting as the opposing force. The intensive tour concluded with the final live-fire exercise Victorious Griffin. During a multinational parade preceding the 11th rotation’s end of duty, their achievements were recognised by the Commander of the ‘Iron Wolf’ Brigade with the Lithuanian Army medal.