Lithuania increases the Army

A new brigade named Žemaitija is established within the Lithuanian Armed Forces in Western Lithuania

A new unit will be established within the Lithuanian Land Force as of 1 January 2016. Motorised Infantry Brigade Žemaitija is established in consideration of the necessity to strengthen Lithuania’s defence capabilities.

“Conscious of the fact that we would simply have no time for forming new military units in the event of a potential threat, we seek to draw the peacetime structure of the Lithuanian Armed Forces to wartime structure which is the basis of Lithuania’s defence plans. The establishment of the second motorised infantry brigade in Western Lithuania is another step on the road of strengthening defence capacity of our country,” Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas says.

The second brigade is formed within the Lithuanian Land Force by decision of the Parliament on a proposal of the National Defence Council. The headquarters of the new brigade will be established in Klaipėda with the Operational Planning and Control Centre of the Lithuanian Land Force HQ at its core. Two currently existing battalions of the Lithuanian Land Force, the Lithuanian Grand Duke Butigeidis Dragoon Battalion (stationed in Klaipėda) and the Lithuanian Grand Duke Kęstutis Mechanised Infantry Battalion (stationed in Tauragė), will be also assigned to the new brigade.

In the course of 2016 the Brigade is planned to be supplemented with logistical, reconnaissance and signals companies subordinate directly to the Brigade staff, while 2017 is planned to see the start of formation of two new battalions, one of infantry and one of artillery. The new Brigade will have the same mission as the existing Iron Wolf Brigade, i.e. to protect and defend land territory, and to carry out defensive and offensive assignments.

The basis of the Brigade will be personnel of the Continuous Mandatory Initial Military Service. Positions of command and specific expertise (soldiers, sergeants, NCOs and officers) will be filled from the roll of professional military service personnel.

The Motorised Infantry Brigade Žemaitija is planned to be formed completely by 2021.

The name Žemaitija celebrates the fighting spirit and resolve of Žemaičiai, a regional Lithuanian ethnicity. The name was previously used by a motorised infantry brigade which was in operation in 1999-2004, was reorganised to become the Western Military District in 2002, and ultimately was disbanded in 2004.

Command of the new motorised infantry brigade will be assumed by Lieutenant Colonel Artūras Radvilas, graduate of the Baltic Military College, United States Army War College, and diverse courses of the NATO School and the European Centre for Security Studies. LTC A. Radvilas deployed to multinational NATO missions in Afghanistan several times and led one of Lithuania’s Provincial Reconstructions Teams (PRT) in Ghor province. Prior to the appointment as commander of the Motorised Infantry Brigade Žemaitija LTC A. Radvilas served as head of the Operational Planning and Control Centre of the Lithuanian Land Force HQ.

When the Motorised Infantry Brigade Žemaitija is established, it will form the basis of the Lithuanian Land Force together with the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf.

Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf will also undergo reform from the beginning of 2016 aiming to enhance efficiency of units of the Lithuanian Land Force during peace and war. Two infantry battalions (King Mindaugas Hussar Battalion and Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion) will be restored to its composition, while Kęstutis Battalion will be moved under the subordination of the newly formed Motorised Infantry Brigade Žemaitija. As a result of the reform, the Iron Wolf Brigade will include five battalions. In the future the Brigade will be supplemented with the Logistics Battalion.

With two infantry brigades in disposition, Lithuania will be capable of implementing operations necessary for ensuring national security, appropriate hosting of allied forces, and collective defence operations so as to expedient response to any infringements upon country’s sovereignty.

Formal ceremony for the establishment of the Motorised Infantry Brigade Žemaitija will be held in Klaipėda on January 15.

The Baltic Review
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