NATO Northern Europe
Photo Essay August 31, 2019

On the ground with Iron Wolf: NATO put to the test

By Ieva Budzeikaite

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.

Analyzing the map is very good chance to take some rest and maybe even to have a cigarette while not moving.

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.

A German soldier from Panzer battalion 104 with a HK69A1 grenade launcher in his hands.
The German Leopard 2A6 is a main battle tank mostly used to conduct a counterattack. German soldiers from eFP battle group control one of the main roads in Pabrade training area.

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.

British troops in defensive positions observing the enemy. The signaler on the right is reporting to higher command about the situation on the frontline.
During the second week of the exercise, the temperature in Lithuania is extremally high, but the exercise must go on. A tired but happy German soldier gives a thumbs-up after the successful operation in the forest of Pabrade, Lithuania.

Read more on allied interoperability:

PIC (Public Information Centre) is the place where all exercise communication starts. While analyzing the map, PIC soldiers discuss where the units are and plan the shortest and fastest routes.

Iron Wolf provided the ideal scenario to confront tactical and operational challenges such as interoperability of communications, command and control, and information sharing.

Lt. Col. John Blocher, Atlantic Council senior Air Force fellow
A soldier from the Dutch COY eFP battle group in Lithuania camouflages a vehicle. It is important to camouflage the vehicles in the training field because in the exercise scenario there is a danger of air attack from AH-64 Apache helicopters.
The commander of the eFP battle group in Lithuania Lt. Col. Peer Papenbroock in MBT (Main Battle Tank) Leopard 2A6 commanding his units during the exercise.

“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.

Somehow, hundreds of vehicles must reach training area in Pabrade, Lithuania. The march to Pabrade took almost twenty-four hours and to avoid stops the trucks were escorted by Lithuanian military police.

Read more on the author of this photo essay:

New Atlanticist

Feb 13, 2019

#StrongerWithAllies: Lithuanian combat photographer started with a dogged pursuit

By Hal Foster

Sergeant Specialist Ieva Budzeikaite was less than two weeks into her award-winning career as a combat photographer when the Lithuanian Armed Forces gave her a chance to snap pictures of troops taking survival training.

NATO Northern Europe
A Lithuanian conscript on the move to contact with the enemy. Close battle will begin soon.
Planning the operation is one of the most important moments of the military exercise. Dutch soldiers look at the map and analyze the terrain.

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.

Lt. Col. John Blocher, Atlantic Council senior US Air Force fellow
Dutch soldiers receiving orders for the future operation. IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) Boxer in the background.

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.

Lt. Col. John Blocher, Atlantic Council senior US Air Force fellow
A Lithuanian conscript watching his sector during the exercise.

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German soldiers are withdrawing a MBT Leopard 2A6 in Pabrade.

Exercising capabilities enhances deterrence by demonstrating that aggression will not go unanswered.

Hans Binnendijk, Atlantic Council distinguished fellow
A German soldier carrying his comrade to the safe area. Pabrade, Lithuania.
A squad leader from General Adolfas Ramanauskas’ Combat Training Centre waits for his soldiers in Pabrade training area.

Ieva Budzeikaite is a combat photographer with the Lithuanian Armed Forces.