The Netherlands Army deployed Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks in Lithuania on July 31 as part of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) deployment marking the first such mobilization in 20 years.
The tanks arrived in Gaizunai Friday morning by train from Germany. From there they take the road to the barracks in nearby Rukla. That is the home base of the Multinational Battlegroup in Lithuania, of which the Netherlands is a part.
"This is the first time in almost 20 years that the tank weapon is moving forward again in the deployment area," said Lieutenant Colonel De Borst, commander of the Dutch military in Lithuania. . “For a long time, the Royal Netherlands Army had to miss the tank weapon. And it doesn't just hurt as a cavalryman. Tanks belong, then and still, in the military's toolbox.”
The Leopards, together with infantrymen, engineers and medical soldiers, belong to a Dutch combat team. 43 Mechanized Brigade from Havelte supplies almost all personnel. Furthermore, CV-90 combat vehicles, Boxers, Fennek reconnaissance vehicles and the recovery tank Buffel are deployed.
The first part of the Dutch military arrived in Lithuania last week. This 10th Dutch rotation will stay there for six months.
In addition to the Netherlands, Germany and Norway also have tanks in their armament in this rotation.
The Netherlands Army once had almost 1,000 tanks, but these have been phased out in recent decades. In 2011, the last shot was fired and most tanks were sold. In 2015, the army again set up a platoon for knowledge retention. In 2017, this platoon merged into the German-Dutch 414 Tank Battalion, which falls under 43 Mechanized Brigade.
The Netherlands staffs the 4th squadron within this tank battalion. This unit is stationed in Bergen-Lohheide and has 18 tanks fully deployable. A number of cavalrymen from this unit are now deployed for the first time with their tanks in Lithuania.