Imagen de fondo
Share it on: Share on Facebook Share it on Twitter Share on Linkedin


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Number: 62

Latvia: "Advanced and reinforced presence".

Latvia: "Advanced and reinforced presence" (Photos: Iván Jiménez/DECET)

In the 2016 Warsaw Summit, it was agreeded, by the chiefs of General Staff and the Goverments of the NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the development of the Wales' agreements, starting a response which will be adapted to the challenges coming from the East and the South of Europe.

Relating to the Eastern flank of the Alliance, the response designed by the NATO consisted in raising the deterrence, by the permanent presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, being respectful of the NATO/Russia founding act.

That is how the "enhanced Forward Presence" (eFP) mission is born. Characterized for being of defensive, multinational and interoperable nature, it is based on the voluntary contributions of the members belonging to the NATO. It also has the ability of deploying in the countries quoted above.

The mission started the Spring of 2017 with an entity of four Battle Groups (BG), over a base of armoured and mechanised units. It was headed by the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada. These units, in battalion entity, operate with the defense forces of the host nation.

The Spanish contingent is framed in the BG deployed in Latvia, with Canadian command. Our BG is the most multinational battalion of the four mentioned before and it waits the incorporation in the future of units from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 

The contributions for the BG's composition, adding the logistic elements of support, are the following: 450 Canada, 322 Spain, 169 Poland, 160 Italy, 49 Slovenia, 18 Albania and 2 Slovakia. Altogether, including the civilian units of support, make 1.300 people.


Location and Composition

Composición y localización de los Battle Groups

Current composition and location of the four Battle Groups:

Estonia: Headed by United Kingdom; Denmark and Iceland contribute forces too. It is located in Tapa.

Latvia: Headed by Canada; Spain, Poland, Italy, Slovenia, Albania and Slovakia contribute forces too. It is located in Adazi .

Lithuania: Headed by Germany; France, Holland, Norway and Croatia contribute forces too. Located in Rukla.

Poland: Headed by the United States; United Kingdom, Rumania and Croatia contribute forces too. Located in Orzysz .


Cold mission in the Baltic

The soldiers start the physical training in Adazi base

The soldiers start the physical training in Adazi base

It is seven o'clock in the morning and the thermometer shows -10ºC. The soldiers start their physical training at Adazi base, located at 20km from Riga, Latvia's capital. They conduct a 45-minute race, and some of them come back with part of their hairs and eyelashes covered by a white colour as a result of the frost. It is February, the coldest period of the year. In these days it is strange to see the sun rising. It does not rain, it snows.

The Spanish soldiers form part of the deployed contigent in Latvia, inside the "enhance Forward Presence" mission of the NATO. They come, most of them, from the 10th "Guzmán el Bueno" Brigade -in the first rotation the generating unit was the 11th "Extremadura" Brigade- and they have already carried out their first month in the operations zone.

"We are a Tactic Group and we manage all the aspects of the combat. We have Intelligence, Manoeuvre, Fire, Protection and Logistic Support capacities", points out the chief of the contingent, lieutenant colonel Tarifa.

New facilities in the base

The current accommodation, since a few months ago, takes place in two buildings of the Latvian base: one is completely taken and, only the top floor of the second one is used. The rooms are connected in pairs and the toilets are common for the tenants. In each room stay four soldiers. All of them have heat and in the hall, at the beginning of each corridor, there is an access to a kitchen equiped with all the necessary elements for its use. Downstairs, in the first building, it is placed "Casa España" social home, meeting space where they can spend their free time.

In the base there are more facilities which are commonly used by the soldiers. The Canadian Army has designed a gym in a huge tent with tens of modern equipments, including a spinning room. They also have at their disposal a multinational home, including billiard tables, ping-pongs, two small cinemas and some televisions. Other alternatives for speding their free time are cycling routes or languages lessons. This aims to offer a wide variety of activities to all the soldiers.

Nowadays, more building works are being developed to put new facilities up, among them, it is being built a Command Post where all the units from the BG and the elements of national support will be placed, together with a zone with hangars and Vehicle Repair Shops. Specifically, for the Spanish contingent, it is expected to carry out an expansion of the entertainment area.

Good multinational vibes

There is a good cohesion among the soldiers from all the countries. The Spanish soldiers have a good relationship with the Italian and Polish people...; they watch football together, they do sports together too and they talk with people from different countries everywhere at the base.

"The environment that the Spanish people transmit to the mission calls the attention of the BG's members from other countries, always being friendly people, as they say. Apart from working hard, we try to be close, willing, participative, and that is what the BG thanks for", mentions the second chief of the BG, major Jansa.

Tactical exercise in the cold

Tactical exercise in the cold

Units coming from Spain

In this mission, the members belonging to the BG come, the majority of them, from the 2nd "La Reina" Infantry Regiment with elements from the 10th "Córdoba" Armoured Regiment and the 45th "Garellano" Infantry Regiment, as well as from the 10th Engineers Battalion. The National Element of Support (NSE in Spanish) is formed by personnel from the 21st Logistic Support Group (AALOG in Spanish), the 10th Logistic Group and other units from the 10th Brigade. It also has elements coming from the 11th AALOG and the Signals Command (the 21st Signals Regiment and the 31st Electronic War Regiment).

The change of authority is expected to be in Summer. The 12th "Guadarrama" Brigade will take control.  




Logistic vehicles in Latvia

Logistic vehicles in Latvia

The Spanish National Support Element (NSE) provides the necessary support to aids, materials and personnel that the Spanish contingent contributes to the Battle Group (BG). This Unit, whose command is headed by captain Iglesias, is not transfered to the BG.
It has more than 130 soldiers and it also has a huge specific weight inside the Spanish contingent. The NSE is formed by a Logistic Unit, with sections of Supply, Maintenance and Transport, apart from a Headquarter and a Centre of Integration and Control of Logistic Support.
These units also form part of the NSE: The Signals Unit with the CECOM, an unit of Cyber-Defense and the Military Police.


Resolution of punctual problems

"We have had some punctual problems with the fuel in some wheeled vehicles when the cold has been more intense. When the temperature was around -20ºC, the diesel fuel froze in the entrance of the filters. The useful fuel for Winter in Latvia is designated arctic level, because the fuels previously used had elements such as paraffin which tends to solidify forming small crystals. On the other hand, with this cold, some vehicles' sensors make mistakes until they get warm after a few minutes, and that is when everything comes back to normality", explains captain Iglesias.

They were also afraid of the fuels' responses in Winter, but the difference of temperature has been  acceptable, so any problems have been presented. However, it is necessary to take precautions: before moving the vehicles, the wait has to be longer and motor has to be started, so that the system gets lubricated and reaches a temperature for an appropiate working. For a bigger safety, in wheeled-vehicles it has been placed tires for the snow and mud.

Another factor that will help is to keep the vehicles in hangars, ceded by the Americans. Currently, the vehicles are kept in a safe place because they do not withstand that extreme temperatures, suffering, in that way, less.

Concerning the supply from the national territory, it consists in a flight conducted monthly. If it is necessary, it can be also carried out through sea route. It is foreseen that one of the next flights will be performed by the new A-400.

«We reached where nobody had reached»

"I want to point out the capacity that we have. We reached where nobody had reached. And everything, thanks to the Leopard 2ER recoverty vehicle, well-known as "Búfalo", which marks differences in its power and the use of chains. We have made, as request from other contigents, several recuperations of vehicles with it", concludes the captain.


The JEME visits the personnel in Latvia

The JEME visits the personnel in Latvia

The JEME visits the personnel in Latvia

The JEME travelled to Latvia to accompany during the 13th and 14th of February the soldiers of the Army deployed in Adazi.

A honor picket welcomed JEME at the base before participating in the tribute to the fallen. He attended the demonstrations about the Spanish contingent, the Battle Group and the current situation of the facilities. He also went to a static exhibition of the vehicles, armament and materials owned by the different contingents. The main course was an exercise in which real fire was performed by "Leopardo" and "Pizarro" combat vehicles, including the launch of a Spike missile and the opening of a minfield with detonars, by the military engineers, at the manoeuvres field next to the base.

The second day consisted in visiting the facilities and meeting all the Spanish soldiers in order to cheer them up: "You are working in a multinational environment which is an enriching experience. Continue on this line, you are representing Spain in this mission and you are doing great".