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Exercises and missions
EXERCISES AND MISSIONS OF LITHUANIAN SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES
Special Operations Force Squadron "Aitvaras" was deployed to Afghanistan on the operation "Enduring Freedom" from 2002 to 2004. From 2005 to 2006 SOF squadrons were on standby in NATO Response Force.
Troops of Special Operations Forces were first deployed to the NATO-led ISAF operation in the south of Afghanistan in 2007.
"We acquired a lot of invaluable experience in southern Afghanistan fighting side by side with other special operations units. It is of topmost value for me and all our soldiers - special operations unit ("green brothers"), jaegers, combat divers - that we have overcome a lot of hard and important tasks, and our colleagues rated high our determination and courage. Our efforts proved meaningful - we are continuing honourable military traditions of our motherland and continue to earn glory to the name of Lithuania," said member of the Special Operations Forces having come home after the mission in southern Afghanistan.
Lithuanian SOF servicemembers continuously increase attention to the training of Afghan security and police forces this way supporting local population in countering insurgents.
The ISAF operation (Afghanistan) since 2007
Through participation in the Afghanistan mission Lithuanian SOF personnel gain experience and expand the capacity of SOF which is evaluated positively by the ISAF Commander in Afghanistan Gen David H. Petraeus.
Soldiers of Special Operations Forces participated in numerous important international exercises for special operations forces in Lithuania and abroad.
In 2006 counter-terrorism exercise 'Shamroc Key 06' were held in Lithuania, 'Cold Response 07' interoperability-enhancing exercise for NATO, the UN, and other countries' land, air, and naval conventional and special components were held in 2007 in Norway, in February 2008 Special Operations Forces troops were placed on an intensive preparation for several types of NATO operations in the 'Double Strike 08' exercise held in Klaipeda, and in September 2008 they were sent to one of the largest NATO-led international exercises for special operations forces last year 'Jackal Stone 08' in Romania.
Soldiers of the Lithuanian Forces Special Operation Unit took part in the international crisis response exercise NOBLE SWORD-07 in Spain from April 23 to May 4.
2009 is significant for a numerous exercises the LITHSOF troops held part in as an international Joint Combined Exchange training (JCET) exercises for Special Operations Forces from Lithuania, the USA, and Latvia in Klaipeda. „Joint exercise of Lithuanian and US special forces is of great importance as a token of appreciation of the professionalism, weight, and experience Lithuanian Special Operations Forces troops have displayed during the four years of counter-terrorism actions in Afghanistan. Such exercise is another example for those disputing unity of NATO and determination of our allies to support Lithuanian national forces in defence of our Motherland", said Chief of Defence of Lithuania Maj. Gen. A. Pocius.
Special Operations Forces of Lithuania launched relations with counterparts from USA about a decade ago, cooperation had been developed via training, and mission in Afghanistan. Lithuanian and US special operations forces conduct joint exercises in Lithuania annually. JCET is not a training mission, the basis of the event is the exchange of experience acquired in multinational operations and exercises and a ground for improvement of joint action and tactics.
|LITHSOF during the international Joint Combined Exchange training in Klaipeda at night. 2009 February.|
|Lithuanian and US special operations forces conduct joint exercises in Lithuania annually.|
|US and Latvian special operations forces troops joined the exercise with all necessary equipment, including a US MC 130.|
2009 August LITHSOF had international exercise of special operations forces 'Balts Will 09' on the Baltic coast and
at sea. The exercise was expected to enhance close cooperation between the neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania, spur exchange of gained experience, refine interoperability level of NATO counterterrorist units, and to concord communications, combat tactics and other crucial issues.
The 'Balts Will 09' exercise was conducted with particular attention to air and water operations, special operations forces were joined by elements of air and naval forces responsible for completion and provision of counterterrorist operations.
Photo Dovile Cizaite
2009 Lithuanian SOF soldiers and their American and Latvian colleagues improved combat skills of special operations forces, completed special wide-range operations and shared experience. The main attention of the exercise was focused on difficult water operations: participants of the exercise conducted drills of ship seizure in water area of Klaipeda port and in open sea. Contribution of ”DFDS LISCO" Company allowed troops drill intervention operations in a ferry crossing open sea waters.
Soldiers of SOF fulfil operation of embarking "DFDS LISCO" ferry heading for Klaipeda seaport. 2009
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Exercise actions of SOF soldiers in a boat in Klaipeda port water area.
Special operations conducted in open sea by aboardage boats.
Soldiers of the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces took part in the largest international exercise for special operations forces „Jackal Stone 09" hosted by Croatia from September 10 to 29, 2009. The exercise was organised by the Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) in a different NATO state on an annual basis, the tradition began with the „Shamrock Key 06" exercise for special operations forces that was held in Lithuania in 2006. Numbers of states and soldiers participating in the exercise grow each year.
The main goal of the exercise is concerting and improving special operations forces' routine actions and sharing experience through joint training. 'Jackal Stone 09' in Croatia.
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More than 1 thousand of special operations forces personnel gathered to the exercise from 7 NATO members
„Jackal Stone 09" hosted by Croatia from September 10 to 29, 2009
2010 Lithuania and Poland were the host nations for the biggest annual special operations forces exercises 'Jackal Stone 10'. The exercise involved over 1,1 thousand special operations forces troops from seven countries: Lithuania, Poland, USA, Latvia, Croatia, Romania, and Ukraine. The exercise was coordinated by leadership of the Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR). The key purpose of „Jackal Stone 2010" was to concert actions for special operations by joint activities and to share experience gained during exercises and missions in Afghanistan.
Referring to multinational special operations forces' exercises held in Lithuania, Chief of Defence of Lithuania Maj Gen Arvydas Pocius stressed that coordination of actions at sea, land and air is the most important element of training.
„Members of all the sorts of special operations forces with their equipment take part in the exercise. The event is beneficial for creating a unified control system of special forces' units. Main participants of the exercise are Lithuanian, USA and Poland troops, other nations contributed smaller capabilities to the event. Therefore such exercise also train regional-level readiness of military personnel," said Chief of Defence of Lithuania. He highlighted that scenario of the exercise was also based on the experience gained in Afghanistan and thus helpful for all the participating countries.
LITHSOF archive, Dovile Cizaite and Chris Calvert pictures