Lithuania is combat ready
During a recent visit, Lieutenant General Roger Cloutier, the commander of NATO Allied Land Command (LANDCOM), stated that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has not affected the combat readiness of the Lithuanian military and NATO. In an interview with BNS he said he was extremely impressed with the professionalism of Lithuanian soldiers, with their confidence, and with “the spirit of the Iron Wolf that permeates everyone that I talked to”. He said he was also impressed with Lithuanian soldiers’ understanding of how they fit in to the broader alliance, “so I walk away from my visit to Lithuania really hopeful and excited about what I am seeing on the ground, because I see Lithuania as a very very strong NATO ally, very competent, very professional, committed to interoperability.”
He noted that every military has areas that need improvement and that is why training is never-ending. There is constant rotation in troops joining, leaving or retiring, and militaries also have to focus on modernization.
As to providing command and control, or what is called theatre enablement, LANDCOM has been involved since 2017 when SACEUR recognized the importance of more focused control over a great part of the European theatre. This drove the creation of new organizations, such as the Joint Sustainment and Enabling Command, the Standing Joint Logistics Support Group, the NATO Force Integration Units like the one that is now in Lithuania.
During his visit he discussed airfields, rail lines, ports, road networks, everything required to move large amounts of personnel and equipment through an area or to an area. Another, major aspect of LANDCOM’s mission includes enabling readiness of partner nations’ land forces, which are non-NATO nations like Ukraine and Georgia that are signed up for participation in NATO missions. LANDCOM helps to build their capabilities and support NATO operations, through enabling interoperability.
“Covid has forced us to optimize and streamline the way we do training. Each individual nation like Lithuania has figured out how to maintain readiness in the Covid environment.” The general is encouraged by the fact that in spite of the Covid and the challenges that Covid causes, “we are able to train or able to maintain our combat readiness”.