World News : Germany is now the third nation to conduct a back-to-back deployment at Amari Air Base, following an internal ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017.
Instead of handing over the mission to another Ally, the Tactical Air Wing 74 from Neuburg in the south of Germany passed the baton to the Tactical Air Wing 71 from Wittmund in the North. In late August 2016, five German Eurofighter Typhoon jets as well as pilots, maintainers and civilian and military support staff arrived at the Estonian Air Base to take over the mission from the Royal Air Force.
Things go differently when nations hand over internally – from one wing to another. Instead of preparing and loading containers with materiel to be redeployed, extensive lists are produced of the equipment to be handed over; all in all more than 32,000 individual items, including the same Eurofighter jets.
While typically Allied detachments stay in place for four months, the Germans are the third NATO nation to execute an extended tour, actually a double detachment. In early 2015, Italy had been lead nation and, subsequently, augmenting nation at Šiauliai, Lithuania for eight months. Meantime, Belgium augmented the mission for almost seven months at Malbork, Poland – the base had been activated temporarily to host NATO detachments assuring Allied nations after Russia’s illegitimate occupation of Crimea.
“Our detachment has been able to draw on the lessons learned during previous deployments here in 2014 and 2015 to execute a flawless job on behalf of NATO in the Baltic skies,” said outgoing detachment commander, Lieutenant Colonel Johannes Durand. “We have maintained the required level of operational readiness including in challenging Estonian winter. We have clearly confirmed our Air Force’s flawless reputation in this important NATO mission,” he added.
NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, which operates out of both Lithuania and Estonia, illustrates the ability of the Alliance to share and pool existing capabilities. It started in April 2004 and has been executed continuously ever since. So far, 17 NATO nations have participated in this demonstration of Allied solidarity and resolve.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands took over the lead of the NATO mission from France at Šiauliai Air Base yesterday.
Source: NATO By L. J. De Rothschild Senior Editor
Photo by Christian Timmig, Bundeswehr 6 JAN 2017