German soldiers tell us what they think about going to Lithuania - the Lithuania Tribune (2024)

German soldiers tell us what they think about going to Lithuania - the Lithuania Tribune (1)

After lengthy negotiations between Lithuanian and German politicians, it was finally agreed that a permanent German brigade would be deployed in Lithuania, but only one in five German soldiers would be willing to go to Lithuania, Indrė Naureckaitė says in

Although under German law, German troops could only come to Lithuania if they expressed their wish to do so, politicians interviewed by the news portal say that the circ*mstances that have emerged will not put a foot in the door of the brigade’s appearance in Lithuania and that the current statistics are still subject to changes.

According to politicians, even the “back-up” deployment option described in the German publication Der Spiegel is not unfavourable to Lithuania. Mission attractiveness takes precedence.

A survey of potentially suitable German units showed that only one in five German soldiers were willing to volunteer to go to Lithuania, the German publication Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

The publication states that the German Army Commander, General Carsten Breuer, has indicated that the low level of interest from German troops so far has led him to prioritise the attractiveness of the new mission.

At the end of June, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius announced the permanent deployment of 4,000 Bundeswehr troops in Lithuania. However, the redeployment will not be by order but, at best, voluntary and long-term.

“The directive quoted by Der Spiegel states that the planning of the deployment must “take into account as far as possible” “the various concerns and interests of the soldiers and their families”, mentioning kindergartens and schools, medical facilities and a cultural programme.

Therefore, according to journalists, Breuer left the question of whether the Bundeswehr Brigade would be permanently deployed in Lithuania from the start. Also, according to the publication, the option of a short-term stay of the brigade in Lithuania and its return to Germany is envisaged.

The internal planning document says that only “initial implementation measures” would be possible in 2024, and the process would continue “step by step” from then on.

Will submit a plan

Laurynas Kasčiūnas, the Chairman of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence (NSDK) and a conservative said that he did not see any negative trends that would signal any obstacle to the brigade’s emergence in Lithuania – the politician stressed that only the very beginning of the process was being observed at present.

According to Kasčiūnas, Lithuanian politicians will do their utmost by 2026, and German politicians, in turn, will also make certain decisions to encourage German troops to come to Lithuania.

“The most important thing is that the German army is clearly saying that the decision has been taken, and now we have to implement everything – they have to, and we have to,” the politician stressed.

The MEP said that Lithuania must implement the entire infrastructure plan and take care of educational institutions, accommodation for the families of the soldiers and job opportunities in Lithuania.

“The Germans will soon have to present a plan on how they imagine all this – I think that the Bundeswehr’s desire to go to Lithuania will certainly grow,” he said.

All options will be considered

Assessing the option mentioned in the publication that a part of the brigade could stay in Lithuania for a short period and then return to Germany, Kasčiūnas said that the Germans themselves had proposed a model of permanent deployment of troops in Lithuania.

“We have always discussed two possible options for deploying the German brigade in Lithuania.

We used to emphasise the permanent rotation model: one brigade stays in Lithuania for half a year, then is replaced by another brigade, then finally by another unit, and so the whole division rotates.

That was the first vision, and it would make it easier for us to deal with the infrastructure – our work. It would be challenging for the Bundeswehr to ensure this continuous rotation because it would require assigning an entire division to Lithuania,” Kasčiūnas said.

However, the Germans have proposed a permanent presence of German troops in Lithuania, and according to Kasčiūnas, this option has made the Lithuanian politicians even happier because it provides more excellent stability.

“The initial scenario would also be good – even more German troops would get acquainted with the Lithuanian defence architecture, and there would be even more interaction with the Bundeswehr.

All options should be considered, but let’s take the maximum and not be distracted. I don’t see any red lights at the moment”, stressed the Chairman of the NSGK.

Kasčiūnas pointed out that such a mission was the first for Germany, so German politicians would probably survey the soldiers to determine the criteria they should have to be willing to go to Lithuania and work according to those directions.

How would Lithuanian attitudes change the statistics?

Dovilė Šakalienė, a member of the NSGK and a social democrat, is convinced that if every fifth German soldier would be happy to come to Lithuania, that is a good statistic.

“This shows that Lithuania is not a very undesirable country. Moreover, we have not yet undertaken any joint communication measures between the Lithuanian and German armies to provide more information about Lithuania and the opportunities available here,” said Šakalienė.

“The question is how many German soldiers would be willing to go somewhere – from those who would be willing to go somewhere, we should assess the number of those who would be willing to go to Lithuania,” she added.

Šakalienė also recalled the very negative attitude of the German public towards its soldiers. According to the politician, the Bundeswehr has been subverted, despised and humiliated, and German soldiers have been subjected to aggression and bullying simply because they are Bundeswehr soldiers.

At the same time, the politician said German soldiers who come to Lithuania get a taste of how respected the army is in this country.

“Soldiers in Lithuania bring back a very positive message, even though the technical problems here have not been solved for many years: soldiers had to live in groups, the government failed to build air conditioning for several years, and the soldiers were “fried”.

But they felt that Lithuania was a respected army, an ally, and they liked it. If we spread this information even more widely, we would change the current statistics”, – D. Šakalienė is convinced.

However, even the current statistics, according to the politician, would not create problems for the arrival of the brigade.

“Every fifth German soldier is probably six times more than we need for the brigade,” Šakalienė said. At the same time, Šakalienė did not take seriously the option, also described in the publication, that only a part of the brigade would be deployed in Lithuania for a short period.

“Since the obvious, official position of the German defence about the deployment of the brigade in Lithuania is permanently, I would not take the interpretation of this newspaper, which is certainly much more favourable to the right-wing parties currently in the opposition, very seriously,” she said.

German soldiers tell us what they think about going to Lithuania - the Lithuania Tribune (2)
German soldiers tell us what they think about going to Lithuania - the Lithuania Tribune (2024)


How many German soldiers are in Lithuania? ›

They will eventually be joined by around 4,800 German soldiers.

What is the relationship between Germany and Lithuania? ›

Both countries are members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), OECD, the Council of Europe, NATO and the European Union. Lithuania has also been part of the Eurozone since 2015. The relationship is described as close and reliable partnership.

Is the US army in Lithuania? ›

US battalions have been deployed in Lithuania on a rotation basis since 2019, following the deployment of rotational companies in 2014–2017.

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