Lambrecht promotes new combat troops for NATO's eastern flank

Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has appealed to the Allies for the German push to set up a multinational combat troops brigade for NATO’s eastern flank in Lithuania.

It is now a matter of filling the proposal with life and finding other allies who will take part, said the SPD politician on Thursday morning on the sidelines of a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels. Germany is ready to lead the combat troops brigade in Lithuania and to participate in it with a four-digit number of soldiers.

Lambrecht did not give exact figures for the future German troop presence in Lithuania. In the country bordering on the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, the Bundeswehr is already the leading nation with more than 1,000 soldiers in a NATO battle group to secure the eastern flank. The Battlegroup is integrated into the Lithuanian Infantry Brigade «Iron Wolf». A brigade usually consists of around 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers.

Brigade is said to be only partially based in Lithuania

According to initial plans, only parts of the new multinational combat troops brigade are to be stationed in Lithuania. Others should be able to remain on standby in the respective troop-providing states.

“We will ensure that this multinational combat troops brigade has a presence and that this presence can then be supported by other soldiers very quickly,” Lambrecht said on Thursday. “It’s the right system. Deterrence through presence and guarantee through very fast support.»

Latvia’s Defense Minister Artis Pabriks emphasized that the Baltic States are not only looking to increase their troops, but also to improve planning for emergencies, to relocate military equipment and to set up command structures. Politicians must be put in a position to make the right decisions in an emergency.

In particular, the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been pushing for much more support from allies since the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine because they also feel threatened by Russia. In addition, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria are counted among the eastern flank states.

Permanent reinforcement should be discussed

There are already multinational NATO battlegroups in all eight countries. In Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, however, they were only set up shortly after Russia’s attack on Ukraine in order to strengthen deterrence and defence.

A final decision on the permanent strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank is now to be made at a summit meeting in Madrid at the end of June. He will also deal with how NATO can become even more effective in other areas.

According to Stoltenberg, a new armed forces model is to be created – with more forces on high alert and, above all, forces that are specifically intended for the defense of certain areas. For example, German soldiers could be scheduled to support Lithuanian troops in the event of an attack.

New force model with 200,000 soldiers?

According to information from alliance circles, member states have already announced that around 200,000 soldiers will participate in the new armed forces model. In peacetime, they are usually under national command, but in an emergency they could be requested by the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe (Saceur). The troops would also be given fixed times for operational readiness. It is being discussed that some troops would have to be ready for deployment within 10 days at most, others in 30 or 50 days.

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