Germany steps up troops' resistance to hybrid attacks – army chief in Lithuania

  • 2019-12-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Germany is stepping up the resistance of its troops deployed in Lithuania and also of other troops to various hybrid attacks, the country's Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Eberhard Zorn said in Vilnius on Monday.

In his words, instructions on how to use mobile phones and social media were sent out to German troops several months.

"We are well aware of this threat coming from the cyber space and information, so we try to improve the awareness of our soldiers regarding this fact," he told journalists on Monday. "All our soldiers can work within the social media and they can provide information, but they should all be aware regarding military security matters (...) and all these fake news campaigns that can exist in international operations."

According to the German general, a special headquarters to fight cyber and informational threats was established within the German army several years ago.

False news were spread in several languages in various online website in late September, saying that German troops stationed in Lithuania desecrated a cemetery in Kaunas with a tank and draw swastikas.

A German-led NATO battalion of over 50 troops has been stationed in Lithuania since 2017 and has become a regular target of attacks every since, Chief of Defense of Lithuania Lieutenant General

Valdemaras Rupsys said.

Soon after the first German troops came to Lithuania, Speaker of the Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis and the police received a false report in February, 2017 that a girl had been raped by German troops.

There have also been media reports that Russia had hacked into smartphones of allied troops deployed in the Baltic states to collect operational information, asses the power of the deployed forces and intimidate troops.

"We face with every rotation (of German troops) that something comes up or something is used – false news on the NATO enhanced forward presence battalion," Rupsys said.

According to the German army chief, his country's troops can use their social media accounts to deny false news.

"Even I started to tweet within the social media. That is an important format to bring our own views and our own information to the people," Zorn said.

During their Monday meeting, the Lithuanian and German generals also talked about bilateral cooperation and Berlin's planned investment into military infrastructure in Lithuania.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said during her October visit to Lithuania that her country planned investing 90 million euros into infrastructure over the next five years.

All in all, around 1,200 troops are now serving within the international NATO battalion in Lithuania. Led by other allied countries, similar army units are deployed in other Baltic states and Poland to deter Russia.