The third rotation of troops from the United States Army in Europe's 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade were seen off at a formal ceremony held at Rukla garrison last Wednesday. After nearly two months of combined combat training, it will be replaced by the 2nd Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Texas, U.S.A., that will continue the joint training with Lithuanian forces, Lithuania's Ministry of National Defence said.
© M.Milinio nuotr.

The farewell ceremony was attended by acting Chief of Staff of the Lithuanian Land Force Lieutenant Colonel Gintaras Jurčiukonis and Commander of the Duke Vaidotas Mechanised Infantry Brigade Major Vytautas Baltrūnas.

When bidding farewell to the outgoing U.S. soldiers, LTC G. Jurčiukonis thanked them for a sincere cooperation and the results achieved, and wished them luck in their future carriers.

The Lithuanian officer highlighted upon presenting remembrance gifts that the deployment of U.S. military personnel in Lithuania has been of essential importance not only for Lithuanian soldiers but for the entire society.

"U.S. military presence in Lithuania has enhanced the security of our country and demonstrated to the potential enemy the strength of the Alliance commitment to protect the Baltic States." Jurčiukonis said when wishing farewell.

The Commander of the company from the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Captain S. Spiering presented a gift for the Lithuanian Land Force, thanked for the excellent conditions that had been ensured for training, and for the experience gained through joint service with Lithuanian soldiers.

The U.S. troops deployed for completing collective defence tasks in Lithuania from their home base in Vicenza, Italy, on August 18 were stationed at the Duke Vaidotas Mechanised Infantry Battalion of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf in Rukla.

The first 75 soldiers of the new 160-strong U.S. shift have been planned to arrive in Lithuania by the end of September. They will be deployed in Rukla like the previous rotations. The incoming shift will bring heavy combat equipment: seven STRYKER armoured personnel carriers, eight BRADLEY infantry fighting vehicles, and two M113 tracked armoured personnel carriers.

U.S. contingents have been deployed in Lithuania, other Baltic States and Poland on a rotational basis since April as a response to the changes in security situation after Russia's annexation of Crimea. The United States is maintaining military presence of roughly 600 infantry personnel in the Baltic States and Poland.

Allies have also increased the protection of airspace and sea of the Baltic region.

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