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Ministro J.Oleko kalba, pasakyta pasaulinėje specialiųjų operacijų pajėgų konferencijoje

2016.10.14

Global SOF Symposium. 13th October 2016, Vilnius, Lithuania

 

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

  

I’m honoured to have a possibility to address this distinguished audience and I’m pleased to see Lithuania hosting Global SOF Symposium.

 

Unpredictability and speed of changes in security environment all around the globe require prompt and well-tailored actions. Speed, skills, out-of-the-box thinking, imagination, and initiative are those features inherent to Special Operations Forces.

 

Considering the nature of security environment it is likely that SOF would grow in numbers, funding, and importance. SOF can help to set the operating environment in the most advantageous manner possible. They are not, however, a replacement for conventional capabilities and they are not a panacea for all of the military challenges we are facing. Huge disbalance of power, no air superiority, territorial defence and highly unfriendly environment are something we still need to think about.

 

Lithuania is aware of the consequences of the shift in modern warfare to more unconventional methods that remain of critical importance. This is evident in Russia’s recent destructive actions in Ukraine, Syria and across Europe. The threat from ISIS along the continent’s southern border is also cause for serious contemplation and action.

 

Being one of the most flexible and useful instruments in our security toolbox Special Operations Forces (SOF) are an integral part of any possible reactions and longer-term strategies to address these threats.

 

SOF is very significant asset to Lithuania. Being established as a separate branch in 2002, Lithuanian SOF has been contributing to operations Enduring Freedom, ISAF, and Resolute Support in Afghanistan for more than decade.

 

Success of the missions fighting terrorism and developing Afghan Special police and national mission units capabilities together with our allies from the US, Latvia, Poland and other countries lead us to developed close relationships and interoperability. It has also awarded our SOF with invaluable real combat experience. Moreover, the support provided by the US through 1206 funding was very effective in helping us to develop critical SOF capabilities.

 

Changes in geopolitical situation and events in Ukraine evoked security threats to the Baltic region. Lithuania was forced to change operational focus from overseas to national defence and security, at the same time applying and relying on support from Alliance partners. Combat experience, materials and relationship gained in Afghanistan became a backbone for planning and preparation of homeland defence against possible aggressor’s incursion.

 

Considering limited Lithuanian military power, credibility of the US and NATO response and attention to Baltic region is and will remain of extreme importance. Presence of the US and other Allies’ Special Operations Forces elements in Lithuania and other countries of the region are crucial to ensure effective and timely reaction and rapid deployment of the Allied forces in case of enemy attack.

 

Lithuania and particularly LTU SOF will continue to develop relationships, interoperability and synchronization of the efforts with SOF partners to defend Lithuania and the region against modern threats at the same time contributing to the global security. Combined initiatives, projects, innovations are the key factors to success. It is worth to mention that based on the success story of combined Lithuanian – Latvian Task Force in Afghanistan as well 3B SOTG contribution for NRF, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian SOFs strive to establish combined SOCC (special operations component command) in the region to ensure coordination and mutual response.

 

Finally, ability to develop and maintain modern, flexible, interoperable Special operations forces is the foremost deterrence factor and Global SOF Symposium, while bringing different nations and developing the network, initiating academic discussions, displaying newest innovations and simply providing possibility of being together, embodies all the above mentioned and sends the clear message of our values.

 

Thank you for your attention and let me wish you all the success

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