RUKLA, Lithuania – The existing lack of military training facilities is a "showstopper" for the Baltic states' better interoperability with allies, Commander of Germany's Field Army of Germany Major General Harald Gante says.
"Training is a showstopper in the three Baltic states due to the fact that there are not so many available. But a lot of troops are present here and so it's a question how to synchronize, how to organize it, how to get benefit out of each other exercises," he told reporters in Lithuania's Rukla on Thursday.
He attended a meeting of the commanders of the allied battalions deployed in the Baltic states and the leadership of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Land Forces.
For his part, Arturas Radvilas, commander of Lithuania's Land Force, said training conditions are being improved, adding that this need will be satisfied soon.
"Training conditions are very important for them because if they come with bigger units, they can't stay here without any activity," he said.
As both officers pointed out, the 3+3 Format meeting focused on improving coordination and alignment to find the most effective ways to strengthen the deterrence and defense of NATO's eastern flank, in the Baltic states in particular.
"We talked today about some areas of interest that are valid for all of us and we learned that we can strengthen our effort with regard to training, exercises, with regard to logistics but also with regard to infrastructure, and the main topic was to learn from each other," Gante said.
In his words, the Baltic states' defense is a duty, not a choice, for Germany, adding that he had nothing to complain regarding host nation support.
"Everything Lithuania is doing for us enables us to fulfill our mission, and I am absolutely convinced that Lithuania can rely on EFP group here," he said.
There are plans already for the next 3+3 Format meeting and it should take place in the second half of this year, the two commanders said.
"Today was about the assessment of the situation. (...) We identified some areas were we can intensify cooperation, and we already discussed today when and where we will conduct the next meeting on our level," Gante said.
According to Radvilas, the next meeting will show how each element of the brigade's command component will look in a larger format and what the military needs are.
Under this format, the countries are implementing the decisions made at the Madrid NATO Summit.
In Lithuania, Germany is contributing the largest number of troops to the battle group it leads, and troops from the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Croatia have also joined the new rotation.
The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group was deployed in Lithuania in February 2017 in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and military activity in the region.