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Defense chiefs decide to move forward with Baltic battalion project

Baltic battalion taking part in NATO's Trident Juncture 2015 exercise in Spain.
Baltic battalion taking part in NATO's Trident Juncture 2015 exercise in Spain. Source: (Siim Teder/Estonian Defense Forces)

The commanders of the defense forces of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania decided on Wednesday to continue with the joint Baltic Battalion project under Latvia's leadership.

"In addition to welcoming and integrating the battle groups stationed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to strengthen NATO security, we must further strengthen defense cooperation among ourselves by continuing with the joint infantry battalion project," said Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Gen. Riho Terras according to a press release.

"We have trained joint battalions for more than 20 years already and at the time this successful cooperation played a big role in our becoming members of NATO," he continued. "Now with the Baltic Battalion we have the opportunity to contribute in turn to our own security as well as that of our allies."

In addition to matters related to the joint battalion and the increased allied presence in the region, Terras, Commander of the Lithuanian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Jonas Vytautas Žukas and Commander of the Latvian Defence Forces Maj. Gen. Leonids Kalnins also discussed the current state of the Baltic Defence College and upcoming reforms to take place there.

The three defense forces commanders likewise decided to further increase the sharing of maritime surveillance images between themselves in order to enhance the Baltics' situation awareness regarding activity on the Baltic Sea.

The defense forces of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania cooperate closely. The three countries cooperate in manning a Baltic airspace control center in Karmelava, Lithuania within the framework of BALTNET (Baltic Air Surveillance Network), while the Estonian-led BALTBAT battalion has participated in the NATO Response Force. The Baltic Defence College, or BALTDEFCOL, in Tartu is a joint military college offering professional military education to senior staff officers.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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