Wednesday, November 6, Adazi, Latvia - President Dalia Grybauskaitė, together with Latvian President Andris Bērziņš, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, attended NATO Response Force Exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 at the Adazi Base in Latvia - the first such exercise in the region. It is the largest NATO exercise since 2006.
The purpose of the large-scale complex exercise is not only to ensure high readiness of the NATO Response Force but also to demonstrate the Alliance's security guarantees for Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. NATO collective defence scenarios for the Baltic States will be tested in practice during the exercise.
"The exercise demonstrates not only our determination to defend our homeland but also NATO's strong commitment to protect Lithuania against external threats. If faced with any threats we will not be alone - will defend ourselves and will be defended by the NATO allies," the President said.
At the Adazi Base, Dalia Grybauskaitė together with Latvian and Estonian Presidents and NATO leaders are watching the Joint Allied Headquarters' command and control drills for the Baltic States and Poland.
According to the President, it is very important for Lithuania to have regular outdoor exercises conducted in the Baltic States in order to test NATO contingency plans in practice and enhance the ability of Lithuanian troops to coordinate their actions and carry out joint operations with allies. Regular outdoor exercises will serve to increase the Alliance's visibility in the Baltics and strengthen regional security.
NATO is successfully expanding activities in the Baltic countries. Lithuania hosts NATO's Energy Security Centre of Excellence; Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is operating in Estonia. Jet fighters of the allied countries have been in the air policing mission protecting the airspace of Lithuania and other Baltic States since 2004.
Taking part in the Steadfast Jazz 2013 are 300 Lithuanian troops deployed in our country, Latvia, Poland, and Norway. In view of high readiness of the Lithuanian Special Operations Force, a special operations unit has been set up in the Pabradė Base.
The largest seven-day regional exercise began on the 2nd of November. Steadfast Jazz 2013 has attracted about 6,000 servicemen from 20 allied and partner nations - Finland, Sweden and Ukraine. The exercise is observed by representatives from Macedonia.