First German troops arrive in Lithuania


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Germany has started deploying troops to NATO ally Lithuania, with the country’s defence minister calling it an “important step”. 

It is the first time since World War II that German soldiers are stationed outside the country on a permanent basis.

About two dozen soldiers were to be deployed on Monday to create conditions on the ground in Lithuania for the arrival of more troops.

In response to the changing security situation in Europe, the German government pledged to deploy a combat-ready and independently capable combat unit to Lithuania.

The brigade should be operational by 2027, German news agency dpa (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) reported.

A permanent presence of around 4,800 soldiers and around 200 civilian Bundeswehr – or German army – members, who can bring their families with them, is planned.

The preliminary command travelled to Lithuania on Monday together with the army inspector, Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, dpa reported.

In Vilnius, the first forces of the brigade are to be welcomed by Lithuanian Defence Minister Laurynas Kasčiūnas.

The preliminary command is set to increase to a deployment force of around 150 men and women by the end of 2024.

On Thursday, Pistorius announced a plan to streamline and reorganise the country’s military command as part of efforts to make the armed forces of NATO’s most populous European member “war-capable”.

Pistorius has pointed to the danger of a possible future Russian attack on a NATO country. 

He has said repeatedly that the German military must become “war-capable,” a choice of words that some in Germany find jarring given the country’s long-standing post-World War II culture of military caution.

In 2022, Scholz pledged to increase Germany’s defence spending to a NATO target of 2% of gross domestic product – a mark that, along with several other countries, it had long fallen short of – and set up a 100 billion-euro special fund to modernize the Bundeswehr.

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