Troops of the communications battalion of the Jaegers' Battalion of Vytautas the Great based in Kaunas, Lithuania, are readying for a military exercise, with over 1,000 NATO communications officers planned to train in Kaunas in the framework of the Steadfast Cobalt exercise.
Lithuanian and NATO flags
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Major General Walter Huhn, deputy chief of staff CIS and cyber defense at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), said the exercise was intended to teach NATO communications officers to work with the Alliance's response forces.

In his words, the exercise is intended to prepare communications networks for NATO's response force in 2018.

"As a communication service provider, I know how crucial it is to enable the operation commanders in the headquarters to do their job to talk to the troops in the field and we are living up to this challenge," Huhn told journalists at the site of the exercise on Tuesday.

In his words, the exercise has two main objectives, i.e., train, test and evaluate the communications of the NATO response force, while the second is to improve the interaction of the communication systems.

"We are connecting various units to each other, providing the prerequisites so that we can connect these units under very short notice. I've pointed out that we're preparing to support the enhanced response force, which is a force of the high readiness, so once we're called upon, we have provide this connectivity on a short notice and this is why we're preparing right now, based on a lot of tests where we put the entities together, configure units, so that we’re ready to do the job once called upon," said the general.

The exercise is due to open on May 21 and close on June 2, involving over 1,200 NATO troops arriving at different times and about 1,000 troops training simultaneously.

Kaunas Vice-Mayor Simonas Kairys told BNS that, with a few more major events planned on the same dates, accommodation of the troops in the city's hotels has become a challenge, adding that some of them would have to go to the exercise from Birštonas and Vilnius.

The exercise will be attended by more than 1,000 NATO troops from over 40 different units in 25 NATO member-states. The training will evaluate the capacities of NATO communications units to ensure information exchange and contacts between combat units of NATO response forces (NRF), joint and component headquarters worldwide.

Currently, troops have put up tents in the Vytautas the Great Jeagers' Battalion for their equipment, i.e., communications and Internet gear for transmission of classified information. Supply of 1.5 megawatt electricity will be ensured in the territory of the exercise. Camps of individual countries are fenced off from the main entry, with strict access control.

Steadrast Cobalt is an annual training held in different countries. Last year, it took place in Romania. This is the first time the exercise is held in Kaunas.

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