Minister Slechtova and General Opata bid farewell to soldiers deploying to Latvia

Autor: By Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

A mortar platoon of 60 soldiers from the 71st Mechanised Battalion left their home base in Hranice for Latvia on 14th June to form the initial part of NATO’s enhanced forward presence (eFP) in the Baltic states.

The mortar platoon will be incorporated into the Canada-led multinational battalion in Latvia that consists Albanian, Italian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Polish military units. The NATO eFP battalion will rotate every six months.

The second Czech unit to serve within the eFP will be a reinforced mechanised company from the 41st Mechanised Battalion consisting of 230 soldiers. They will be deployed to Lithuania at the beginning of July, together with their Dutch and German colleagues. The Czech soldiers will be equipped with the Pandur armoured fighting vehicles and supported by a platoon of engineers, as well as a logistic and medical unit.

On 11th June, Minister of Defence Karla Slechtova, the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Ales Opata, the Canadian Ambassador, Barbara C. Richardson, and the Latvian Ambassador, Alberts Sarkanis, visited the 7th Mechanised Brigade base in Hranice to meet the departing soldiers and wish them well.

"By participating in the enhanced forward presence mission in the Baltics, we are fulfilling our commitment to our allies. Being part of this international environment will be a unique experience for our Czech soldiers, and I am pleased to see that the Hranice mortar platoon soldiers are very well prepared for their service abroad," said Minister Slechtova.

The creation of the allied eFP is the result of the collective decision taken at the NATO Warsaw Summit in July 2016. It led to the formation of four task forces to help strengthen the security of the region; each task force being part of a reinforced battalion currently deployed. The US-led task force will serve in Poland, the battalion in Latvia will be led by Canada, the Lithuanian one by Germany, and Great Britain will be the lead nation in Estonia. This mission signifies yet another Czech contribution to allied cooperation in military training.

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By Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

June 15, 2018