Text by Emma Ledoux
Iron Wolf, or “Geleżinis Vilkas” in Lithuanian, is a large-scale military exercise held annually in Lithuania to train and assess the ability of the Lithuanian Armed Forces to plan and complete defensive actions and train interoperability in joint operations with Allies and partners.
This year, approximately 4000 soldiers from ten different countries (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia) participated in the exercise which was held across multiple sites in Lithuania from June 8 to June 22.
Forces operated under the leadership of the Mechanized Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf”, an elite unit of the Lithuanian Land Forces. The exercise started at the Gaižiūnai Training Area (Jonava region) and proceeded to the Gen. Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area in Pabrade, close to the Belarusian border. During the exercise, units transported their military equipment from deployment areas to assembly areas and areas of operations over civilian highways with military police escort in order to train mobility and the ability to reach any part of Lithuania quickly if needed be.
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The joint exercises and constant contact give soldiers from both countries opportunities to practice working together, as well as building those personal ties.
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Iron Wolf provided the ideal scenario to confront tactical and operational challenges such as interoperability of communications, command and control, and information sharing.
“Our aim of the exercise is to integrate all of combined arms into a common battle system capable of effective planning, deployment to the battle field, and successful battle fight against aggressor [sic]. It is our largest exercise this semester that gives us the opportunity to train together with our Allies,” said the commander of the Mechanized Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf, Colonel Mindaugas Steponavičius.
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Iron Wolf is a crucible where NATO exercises multi-national, multi-domain operations to prove combat power and send a clear message of the strength of NATO forces on the Eastern flank.
Soldiers fighting shoulder to shoulder with allies and partners in a challenging but realistic combat environment builds bonds and cohesion all the way down to the tactical level.
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Exercising capabilities enhances deterrence by demonstrating that aggression will not go unanswered.
Ieva Budzeikaite is a combat photographer with the Lithuanian Armed Forces.