Lithuanian military train in NATO’s largest demining exercise in Iceland

Lithuanian military train in NATO’s largest demining exercise in Iceland

On September 21 through October 4 the EOD Diver Unit of the Harbor and Littoral Defence Service, Lithuanian Navy, as well as EOD specialists of the Lithuanian Land Force Col Juozas Vitkus Engineer Battalion and members of the Special Operations Forces are training in the largest NATO explosive ordnance disposal exercise Northern Challenges 23 in Iceland. The exercise was observed by Chief of Defence of Lithuania General Valdemaras Rupšys who is visiting Iceland.

“We met Lithuanian troops training in the exercise, I was informed about the value and challenges the event gives. It has been even more valuable to see the broader view of it as I have met with the organizers and participants at different levels. We are a modest but important part of this exercise,” said Gen Valdemaras Rupšys about the visit to the training event.

The annual exercise is designed to ensure experience and expertise-sharing among NATO Allies in the area of EOD through training activities on land and in waterbodies that hone demining skills and demining personnel coordination, expand competencies with tasks in a complex environment, and a particular focus on harbor and harbor infrastructure defence. The Lithuanian troops attend the exercise alongside EOD teams from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Sweden and France.

“The exercise gives us the opportunity to learn from each other, apply technological innovations, compact standard operating procedures, work side by side and support each other. The training event focuses on direct handling of explosive devices in the most realistic conditions possible and is therefore one of the best opportunities to test theoretical EOD personnel knowledge, practical skills and teamwork proficiency,” says EOD Unit team commander Lieutenant (N) Rapolas Jurgelis.

Lithuanian team at Northern Challenges 23 cooperated with representatives of different NATO Allies to complete explosive ordnance disposal tasks that were gaining more complexity as the scenario evolved. Military personnel had to neutralized improvised explosive devices on land and in waterbodies. Challenges presented by subsequent tasks were informed by the previously utilized standard demining procedures thus requiring responsiveness to the evolving situation, adaptation of operating procedures, application of additional security measures and actions.

Exercise Northern Challenges 23 is organized by the Coast Guard of Iceland in cooperation with military EOD personnel of the United Kingdom and Denmark. The exercise trained 27 participant teams from 15 NATO Allies in complex natural conditions in an island of Iceland.