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The rapid response unit formed by Lithuania and 8 more countries has been approved as ready to act at a meeting in London
10,000 troops from nine countries are ready to deploy any time in case an emergency needed as response. It is signalled by the final Common Memorandum of Understanding signed on 28 June in London by Lithuania and 8 more like-minded countries on the formation of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
The document marks the completed formation and full operational readiness of the force. The United Kingdom is the author of the initiative joined by Lithuania and seven more, mainly Baltic region countries: Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden.
According to Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis, the JEF is yet another instrument of deterrence and defence, as well a means of increasing security of Lithuania and the entire region and European military capabilities. “Present security situation particularly requires such rapid response units,” he says. “The Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania mandated Lithuanian forces to deploy to operations in composition of the NATO Response Force, European Union Battle Groups, and the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, therefore if there appears a political decision, there is also legal basis at the ready to deploy our troops to ensure crisis management even tomorrow.”
Minister stressed that regular training and exercises were needed if there was a wish to keep the JEF on standby. “It is a great opportunity for Lithuanian soldiers to improve skills with solders of the United Kingdom. Also, the JEF is even more important in the context of Brexit as the link between our region and the United Kingdom,” R. Karoblis said.
"Our commitment today sends a clear message to our allies and adversaries alike – our nations will stand together to meet new and conventional challenges and keep our countries and our citizens safe and secure in an uncertain world",
Secretary of Defence of the United Kingdom Gavin Williamson said at the signing ceremony. "We are judged by the company we keep, and while the Kremlin seeks to drive a wedge between allies old and new alike, we stand with the international community united in support of international rules.”
The JEF is a brigade-sized high readiness combat unit formed to respond to emergencies in Europe and beyond: from humanitarian aid and deterrence to combat actions. The JEF is primarily meant for conduct of rapid response operations under the flag of the European Union, NATO, or the UN. Its elements could also be used for Article 5 operations.
The force will comply with NATO standards and procedures, may be used to augment other multinational high readiness forces, and support UN, NATO, and EU actions.
Soldiers of the nine JEF countries were already demonstrating full operational readiness during Exercise Joint Warrior in the UK this spring.
One Lithuanian officer has been serving at the JEF operational HQ in Northwood, UK, since early 2016. In 2018 the total of roughly 150 Lithuanian soldiers are assigned to the JEF: a company-sized unit attached to the Danish Army Battle Group, and a military medic assigned to the UK field hospital.
The Memorandum of Understanding on establishment of the JEF was signed on 30 November 2015 in London by Denmark, Estonia, UK, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Norway. The JEF was joined by Finland and Sweden in the summer of 2017. The establishing document provided that when the JEF reaches full operational capability, a new memorandum will be signed to be applied for JEF exercises and multinational deployments.
Minister R.Karoblis also met with Secretary of Defence of the United Kingdom G. Williamson and discussed the agenda of the upcoming NATO Summit, bilateral Lithuanian-British cooperation, and new initiatives.
Photo credits: MoD, UK Ministry of Defence