On April 2 the Ministry of Defence of Lithuania and the Department of Defence of the United States of America signed a bilateral defence cooperation plan for the next five years in Washington.
The document identifies cooperation objectives and priorities the countries agree to focus on in the coming years: joint exercises and training, strengthening deterrence measures in the Baltic Sea region, cooperation in multinational operations, development of regional cyber capabilities, etc. The roadmap document is meant to ensure the continuity of joint efforts and proper financing of long-term projects. Specifics of the roadmap will be reviewed and updated annually.
“The U.S. is Lithuania’s strategic partner, our military cooperation has grown significantly over the past years – we see more joint exercises, larger U.S. investment into Lithuania’s military infrastructure, several ambitious projects have been launched. This document demonstrates the U.S. disposition to further actively cooperate in the Baltic Sea region,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says.
During the U.S.-Baltic Strategic Dialogue in November 2018, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania agreed to bilaterally develop Defense Cooperation Strategic Roadmaps with the United States. According to Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger, the Lithuania Roadmap was the first of these agreements to be signed.
At the moment the U.S. Congress is beginning to draft next year’s defence budget which is expected to include further assistance to the Baltic Sea region, and possibly, financing to the projects agreed to in the roadmap. Last week Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis discussed those matters with members of the U.S. Congress as well.
Since 2014, the United States has invested nearly $80 million for defence security cooperation in Lithuania, and Lithuania’s acquisitions from the U.S. is steadily growing and will soon reach the values of $200 million.
Currently the Ministry of National Defence is in negotiations on procuring 200 armoured personnel carriers for the Lithuanian Armed Forces from OshKosh U.S. manufacturer. Lithuania is also procuring anti-aircraft missiles, Javelin anti-tank systems, communications systems and ammunition. In its turn, the U.S. is implementing security assistance programmes in Lithuania and has invested large sums into military training areas and other infrastructure in Lithuania, provides funding for training of Lithuanian soldiers and specialists in U.S. military schools as a result.
On 3 April 2018 President of the United States Donald Trump signed a joint declaration at a meeting with representatives of the three Baltic states at the White House. The document underlines the U.S. commitment to assist Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in strengthening their defence capabilities. This long-term Defense Cooperation Strategic Roadmap is an important step on the road of implementation of the Balti-U.S. cooperation objectives laid out in the Presidents’ Declaration.