US set to step up military presence in Baltics – embassy in Vilnius

  • 2022-12-07
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The United States is set to further step up its military presence in the Baltic countries and change the status of US forces in Lithuania to "a persistent rotational presence", the US embassy in Vilnius said on Wednesday. 

The US battalion has been deployed at the Pabrade training area close to Vilnius since 2019 with longer or shorter breaks between rotations.

Robert Gilchrist, the US ambassador to Lithuania, has informed Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas about the planned troop deployment changes.

"As part of the ongoing commitment to its Baltic Allies, the United States will further enhance the continuous and persistent US military presence in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania," the embassy said in a press release.   

"In Lithuania, this initially includes transitioning the episodic deployments of an armored battalion-sized element and field artillery battery to a persistent rotational presence," it said.

“As President Biden has said, we are committed to defending every inch of NATO territory," Gilchrist said in the press release. 

"These US deployments demonstrate this commitment, and while we continue to adapt our force posture in the region, we are committed to maintaining a persistent, heel-to-toe presence in the region and intensifying training with our Baltic Allies to maintain combat credible capabilities and to enhance our defense and deterrence posture," he said.

Anusauskas was quoted as saying in the press release that Lithuania is "committed to providing necessary host nation support". 

"US military presence remains a critical part of our deterrence and defense against Russia," he said. "We welcome and strongly support the enhancement of continuous and persistent US military presence in Lithuania." 

A company-size unit of around 150 US troops was stationed in Lithuania on a rotational basis in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. 

After three years of company rotations, the US has been deploying battalions more regularly to Lithuania since 2019.