RUKLA BARRACKS, Lithuania --The German Bundeswehr, 104th Panzer Battalion, homebased in Pfreimd, Bavaria, replaced the 371st Mechanized Infantry Battalion from Marienberg, Saxony in a transfer of authority ceremony here Aug. 4.
The 104th Panzer Battalion is no stranger to Lithuania; in 2019, it formed the core of the battle group for the fifth rotation.
“I welcome the opportunity to return as a commander of this battle group, drawing on my experience from the fifth rotation in 2019. However, we are facing new challenges, such as COVID 19, so this will also be a learning experience for me. This ceremony today shows our commitment to the mission and: Together we are Strong!” said German Lt. Col. Peer Papenbroock, commander, 104th Panzer Battalion.
During the ceremony Papenbroock assumed command of NATO’s eFP Battle Group Lithuania from German Lt. Col. Alex Niemann, commander, 371st Mechanized Infantry Battalion. This transfer marks the end of the seventh rotation and the start of the eighth.
“Our goal is peace and conflict prevention, which contribute to NATO's overall deterrence and defence posture. As the commander of the NATO’s enhanced forward presence battle group, my mission in Lithuania is to provide a reliable deterrent based on our military capabilities, exercises and preparedness,” said Papenbroock.
The NATO eFP Battle Group is comprised of almost 1200 soldiers from eight nations and has three tactical companies, combat support capabilities, one logistical supply company, military police, and paramedics, and approximately 700 vehicles which include tanks, armoured infantry fighting vehicles, wheeled armoured vehicles and armoured personnel carriers, and partly armoured trucks.
“We maintained our readiness and the mission was not interrupted. We were always a reliable partner to our Lithuanian friends, continuing to strengthen our mutual bond of deterrence and collective defence,” said Niemann.
The battle group is fully integrated into Lithuanian “Iron Wolf” Mechanized Infantry Brigade. The eFP Battle Group and Lithuanian brigade liaise with MND-NE, based in Elblag, Poland whose mission is to coordinate activities of the enhanced Forward Presence Battle Groups deployed in Lithuania and Poland. These tasks consist of the coordination of training and increasing situational awareness in the region.
Polish Maj Gen Krzysztof Motacki, commander, NATO Multinational Division North East attended the ceremony.
“The soldiers from the 371st Mechanized Infantry Battalion leave behind a legacy of success and excellence, and during this rotation I look forward to seeing further collaboration between the soldiers of the battle group and Iron Wolf Brigade,” said Motacki.
EFP Battle Group Lithuania is a clear demonstration of Alliance solidarity, determination and ability to defend NATO’s population and territory against any possible aggression.