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Lithuania to Host 80 US Troops for Drills - Defense Ministry

Sputnik News

18:33 30.06.2015(updated 18:37 30.06.2015)

Some 80 US Mission Command Element (MCE) soldiers will conduct week-long exercises in the Baltic nation of Lithuania, starting Wednesday, the country's ministry of national defense said Tuesday.

VILNIUS (Sputnik) – The July 1-8 drills at a warfare training center near the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius will involve Lithuanian Land Force Headquarters-assigned soldiers in addition to 80 MCE troops of the US Army's 4th Infantry Division.

Colonel Dalius Polekauskas, Chief of Staff of the Lithuanian Land Force, expressed hope for more US-Lithuanian military drills in the future.

'We hope this joint exercise with the MCE of the 4th Infantry Division is just one in a series of joint future events that will only become more numerous with time and which will grow into wider-spectrum cooperation,' Polekauskas said.

Around 100 of the 4th Infantry Division's MCE soldiers are deployed this year in Germany, according to the Communication and Engagement Directorate of the US European Command.

The Command serves as the intermediate headquarters of the US-led Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing series of maritime and land-based drills to enhance and support NATO allies and partners as a response to what the West considers Russian aggression in Ukraine.

NATO has reinforced its military presence in the Baltic Region since the conflict in southeast Ukraine broke out in April 2014. Since then, nearly 600 US Army soldiers have arrived in the region and it is planned that Lithuania will host a sixth rotation of US troops shortly.

Latvia and Estonia, along with Lithuania, have continued to request an expanded presence of the NATO forces in the region.

Moscow views NATO's growing military activity on its western frontier as a threat to national security.


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