US cavalry unit takes up position in Lithuania
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 5, 2021
A Fort Hood-based cavalry officially began an eight-month mission in Lithuania, focused on deterring Russian aggression in the region, as it uncased its colors at a ceremony this week, Lithuanian and U.S. officials said.
The 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment took up position in Lithuania along with its heavy weaponry, including Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.
Having a U.S. military presence in the region was key to deterring Russian aggression against the former Soviet Republic, said Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas, who, along with U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Robert Gilchrist, attended the ceremony Monday in Pabrade, around 30 miles northeast of Vilnius and six miles from the border with Belarus.
When the unit arrived in Lithuania on Dec. 4, Anusauskas said Lithuania would welcome a permanent U.S. military presence on its soil, saying it would strengthen “the security of the entire eastern flank of NATO.”
“We are prepared to host U.S forces and provide all conditions they need to carry on with training cycles and completion of tasks,” he said at the time.
The Army has, since 2019, been sending a battalion-sized element to Lithuania for most of their nine-month deployments, adding fire power near the heavily militarized Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which is wedged between Lithuania and its southern neighbor, Poland.
The 2nd Battalion is part of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division rotation in Europe, which is expected to last through the summer. The majority of the regiment's force is anchored in Poland, but smaller elements are spread out along NATO’s eastern flank.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas, uncase the colors during a ceremony on Monday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Pabrade, Lithuania. The unit will spend the next eight months on a mission focused on deterring Russian aggression.
ALFREDAS PLIADIS/ LITHUANIA MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE