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Exercise Iron Wolf 2017 increases interoperability of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups

21 June 2017
Armoured infantry fighting vehicles conduct a river crossing during Exercise Iron Wolf 2017. Source: IHS Markit/Nicholas Fiorenza

The German-led enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup became operational during Exercise Iron Wolf 2017 in Lithuania, its commander Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Huber said on 20 June. Huber also commands the German Army's (Mechanised Infantry Battalion) 122, which makes up much of the eFP battlegroup in Lithuania, for which it has deployed Leopard 2A6 tanks and Marder 1A3 armoured infantry fighting vehicles. The battlegroup also includes troops from Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway, hosted by the Lithuanian Iron Wolf mechanised infantry brigade.

Exercise Iron Wolf 2017, being held in Lithuania on 12-23 June as part of the larger Exercise Saber Strike in the Baltic states and Poland, is the first time that two eFP battlegroups are exercising together. The exercise involved the US-led eFP battalion in Poland crossing into Lithuania across the Suwalki gap between the Russian military base in Kaliningrad and Belarus.

US Army Lieutenant Colonel Steve Gventer, commander of the US-led eFP battlegroup, said interoperability had been "forged through exercises" over the last few years, allowing different national components to call in artillery and close air support from other nations' assets, for example.

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite said the German troops were already deeply integrated into the Iron Wolf Brigade when it became the lead nation for the eFP battlegroup.

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