U.S. and Lithuanian defense leaders today signed a document detailing cooperation between the two countries through 2024.
Robertas Sapronas, Lithuania’s defense policy director, and Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant defense secretary of defense for international security affairs, signed the roadmap for cooperation at the Pentagon.
Lithuania is a NATO ally and is a “frontline state” bordering on Russia. It is the first Baltic state to sign such a cooperative agreement. More will follow, DOD officials said.
The roadmap calls on the two countries to strengthen training, exercises and exchanges. Both nations will cooperate to ensure a stable and secure Baltic Sea through cooperation with other NATO allies and partner nations such as Finland and Sweden.
The roadmap calls on the United States to continue to deploy forces to the Baltic states “to strengthen deterrence and to catalyze the efforts of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to develop their national defense further.” Lithuania’s Defense Ministry will provide all necessary support for the deployment of U.S. forces.
U.S. and Lithuanian service members will cooperate in multinational operations, and will share lessons learned.
U.S. foreign military programs should complement Lithuanian national funds to build anti-tank, air defense and intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance capabilities. The programs also will help Lithuania gain maritime domain awareness and look to replace Soviet/Russian-made equipment and platforms. This will help both bilateral and NATO cooperation, officials said.
Working Together in Cyber, Intelligence
Lithuania and the United States will work closely in the cyber domain, looking to deter and defend against malicious cyber intrusions and attacks. U.S. officials support establishing a cyber operations center in Lithuania. The two countries also will work closely together to improve intelligence sharing in the region and early warning capabilities.
The two countries will work together to develop regional approaches to security challenges in the area, working with Estonian, Latvian, and Polish counterparts.
When practical, the U.S.Defense Department and the Lithuanian Defense Ministry are to support regional integration and procurement of warfighting systems, according to a news release on the roadmap. This includes integrated air and missile defense systems and capabilities to enhance maritime domain awareness. The program will also examine command, control, communication, and computers architecture integration and standardization. The countries of the region also will look at special operations forces.
Lithuanian officials will continue their partnership with the Pennsylvania National Guard. Officials emphasized the benefits of the program and said they look forward to its further development.