VILNIUS – Lithuania's Chief of Defense Valdemaras Rupsys says he has been assured by his US counterpart Mark Milley that America will have a persistent military presence in Lithuania.
"One of the most important assurances given by General Milley is that US troops will have a persistent presence in Lithuania," Rupsys was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Lithuanian army on Wednesday.
The US has so far been sending its troops to Lithuania on a rotational basis, but Lithuanian politicians want a permanent American presence. However, the Lithuanian army chief says this "is the same as a permanent presence".
The Lithuanian army later clarified it to BNS that Milley referred to persistent rotation of forces.
In Washington, the Lithuanian chief of defense and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff also discussed ways to replenish weaponry following the transfer of part of Lithuania's capabilities to Ukraine as the latter is fighting against Russian aggression.
"The United States is a strategic ally of Lithuania, which appreciates Lithuania's modernization as a NATO member and its readiness to defend itself against potential aggressors, and envisages assistance in the replenishment of weaponry capabilities lost as a result of support provided to Ukraine," he said.
During the meeting, the Lithuanian and American army chiefs also discussed bilateral military cooperation in the context of training and exercises, and strengthening regional defense and security.
Milley paid special attention at the meeting to the development of future cooperation, strengthening Lithuania's air defense, cyber security and intelligence, support to the modernization of the Lithuanian army, and other important areas of bilateral partnership.
The US has been sending battalion-size army units of more than 500 troops to Lithuania on a rotational basis since 2019.