Date: 23 June 2019
Large-Scale Military Exercise Iron Wolf 2019 Ends in Lithuania
On June 21, the largest two-week military exercise in Lithuania, in which about 4,000 soldiers of the Lithuanian Army and allied countries took part in, came to an end. As reported by the Command of the Lithuanian Army, the exercise, which was mainly aimed at improving military mobility and the speed of transferring troops to different parts of the country, went according to plan. However, Exercise Iron Wolf 2019 has become the target of Russia’s information warfare – it all boils down to the notion of spreading fake news. Supposedly, one of the Lithuanian rivers was to be radioactively contaminated during the military manoeuvres.
Exercise Iron Wolf 2019 (Lithuanian: Geleżinis Vilkas 2019) was one of the three large-scale military exercises conducted in the Baltic Sea region involving NATO forces. At the same time, two other military exercises Dragon 2019 and BALTOPS 2019 were also being carried out. The two-week Lithuanian exercise entered into an active phase between June 18 and June 21. About 4,000 soldiers from Lithuania and 10 other countries took part in the military training. This year, soldiers from the USA, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic and Estonia participated in the exercise. Some of the soldiers from the above-mentioned countries are currently being stationed in Lithuania as part of NATO’s multinational battalion battle group.
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The Iron Wolf international exercise is held every year. The aim of this year’s edition was to improve planning and defence capabilities, the ability to cooperate with the armies of allies and partner nations in military operations as well as to improve the mobility of units and the ability to quickly redeploy forces to any part of the country. The main combat tasks were carried out on the following two training grounds: one situated near the city of Pabradė in the eastern part of the country, very close to the Belarusian border, and the other located in the village of Gaižiūnai in the central part of the country. As part of the exercise, the soldiers as well as military equipment, including tanks and armoured vehicles, were transported to different parts of the country. The leading role in the exercise was traditionally performed by the Mechanised Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf” (Lithuanian: “Geleżinis Vilkas”), which is an elite unit of the Lithuanian Army. In the final phase of the exercise, the soldiers from Lithuania and the allied forces carried out a series of attack and defence operations on the Pabradė training ground. Among the foreign observers of the training were a few representatives of the Belarusian military.
This year, the beginning of the exercise was accompanied by a decision issued by the Lithuanian government approving a plan proposed by the Ministry of Defence to increase the number of soldiers in the Lithuanian Army. According to the plan, the number of professional soldiers is to be increased from 10,900 to 14,500 by the year 2028. The strategy also includes the increase in the number of volunteer defence forces and more frequent participation of reserve soldiers in military exercises.
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