September 21, 32 volunteer soldiers of the 5th Territorial Unit, Vytis Military District, National Defence Volunteer Force, attended a deployment ceremony at the Castle of Biržai courtyard before leaving for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Gao province, eastern part of the country, to serve as the 8th rotation of the Force Protection Unit. They will be responsible for force security in the military base territory and serve with German soldiers.
"Let me wish you a sense of duty and fighting spirit, whether it is going to be easy of hard - because such is the commitment of Lithuania as a state to the world. You will be serving in a German military base at the same time as German troops are serving in our country, this is cooperation. You are going to a land where political division prevents security and it depends solely on peacekeepers. I wish you good luck in fulfilling your combat duties," National Defence Volunteer Defence Force Commander Col Dainius Pašvenskas said wishing farewell the troops.
According to the NDVF Commander, the biggest challenges his troops would face in a multinational environment would be to retain the team spirit and to adjust to challenging climatic conditions.
"Your mission will begin when you disembark the plane in Mali, while to your families it has already begun when you told them about your decision. I thank the military families who farewell you today and invite them to give you their best support throughout the mission period," NDVF Commander said.
The deployment ceremony was held after a celebration of a holy mass at St john the Baptist Church -Chaplain Lt Col Virginijus Veilentas blessed the FPU rotation and told them about his experience of international missions. Soldiers received tokens - badges of Vytis, symbol of unity, loyalty, courage, wisdom, and life. The ceremony was also attended by an MP, municipality mayors, commanders of NDVF territorial units, young riflemen, families of the leaving soldiers.
The United Nations launched Operation MINUSMA in the Republic of Mali in 2013. Lithuania contributed its first Force Protection Unit formed by NDVF troops to the operation on 19 October 2017. Lithuanians are operating side by side with colleagues of the German Contingent, the new rotation will stand in for the outgoing 6th Territorial Unit of the Resurrection Military District of the National Defence Volunteer Force.
Photo credits: NDVF