PABRADE, Lithuania – “I would like to take the opportunity to thank the people of Lithuania for the warm welcome and hospitality. This uncasing ceremony officially signifies our arrival to Lithuania,” said 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Commander Lt. Col. Steven E. Jackowski during a color uncasing ceremony Jan. 4, 2021, at the battalion’s new area of operation.“We look forward to every training opportunity with our NATO partners and allies throughout the coming months. The Stallions will remain ever vigilant as we add our strength to that of Lithuania and the NATO-enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup to deter aggression and to ensure continued peace in the region,” he said.The casing that has protected the battalion’s colors as 2-8 Cav. Reg. traveled across the U.S. and Europe to the Pabrade Training Area, Lithuania, was carefully removed by Jackowski and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesus Pena. The battalion colors and streamers unfurled and swayed in the breeze as the Troopers saluted.The small, socially-distanced ceremony hosted the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Robert Gilchrist, Lithuanian Land Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Raimundas Vaiksnoras, and Lithuanian Motorized Infantry Brigade “Griffin” Commander Col. Nerijus Stankevicius.Recently appointed Lithuanian Minister of Defense Arvydas Anusaukas also attended the ceremony as part of his first duties of the New Year and as minister.“I am happy for this opportunity to be here with you today,” Anusaukas said. “Let me welcome with open arms the commander of the battalion and the whole of the battalion. I hope that interoperability and friendship between our forces will grow. We are stronger when we are working together.”As each guest completed their words of welcome and thanks, Jackowski and Anusaukas presented each other with challenge coins to signify the continued support and partnership between NATO allies.As the ceremony closed, guests were invited to the nearby range road to get an up-close look at the U.S. M1 Abrams and Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the heaviest weapon platforms 2-8 Cav. Reg. employs on the battlefield. Vehicle crews were also on hand for guests to ask any questions.The crew members recognized Ambassador Gilchrist from a recently recorded holiday greeting on the 2-8 Cav. Reg. social media platforms in December 2020. The ambassador and crew members finally met in person.“What you are doing here is absolutely crucial,” Gilchrist said. “I look forward to returning here with the minister at some point, ideally without masks, so [we] can have the opportunity to meet you all and shake hands.”Now established in the Pabrade Training Area, 2-8 Cav. Reg. along with host nation and NATO allied and partner forces will begin planning joint, multinational training events in anticipation of reduced COVID-19 infection rates and ease of restrictions.“I am sure that during your deployment here you will achieve your training objectives,” Anusaukas said. “Our priority is to ensure you have necessary conditions to train here.”