A discussion was held at the Eastern Europe Studies Centre (EESC) on Friday 12 November to present an analytical review “Military mobility development: the situation now and the challenges ahead”. The author of the work, Reserve Colonel Gintaras Bagdonas, took part in the event, and the discussion was moderated by Dr Tomas Janeliūnas, the head of the EESC research programs.
While presenting his work, Gintaras Bagdonas emphasized that the topic of military mobility is now being actively explored, since Lithuania’s defence depends to a large extent on the capability for allies to enter Lithuania, which is an essential condition, as good military mobility would ensure deterrence. For this reason, military mobility must be a national priority. In his review, the author chose to discuss the achievements regarding military mobility of the European Union (EU) and Lithuania due to the tools available to the EU and national states which NATO does not have.
In the review of military mobility in Europe, Gintaras Bagdonas stated that this field is also a priority for the EU, as it was put on the political agenda as the security situation deteriorated. Since 2017, there has been a strong concern in Europe about military mobility. This resulted in various actions being taken by the EU institutions to improve it, such as the creation of new funding opportunities and project launches. In the Lithuanian case, both national and internal documents signify the importance of military mobility and the country’s goal to participate in joint EU projects. As Gintaras Bagdonas pointed out, various transport infrastructure projects are being implemented, which are also related to the main challenges of military mobility in Lithuania. The list of priorities has also been drawn up in the Lithuanian Armed Forces, but there is still there is plenty of room for improvement. According to the author, military mobility must be a priority in Lithuania, and inter-institutional cooperation is necessary to ensure it.
The discussion also revealed whether the example of military mobility could be seen as evidence that the EU and NATO could establish a dialogue. Gintaras Bagdonas agreed that such a joint effort showed significant progress in cooperation, especially as both organizations had signed cooperation documents in which one of the topics is military mobility. Speakers agreed that not only the strategic but also the tactical part, as well as the focus not only on roadbuilding but also on other infrastructure developments such as airports, is necessary to improve military mobility even more. Considering these ideas, the author of the review emphasized that while these things are considered significant, efficiency is a priority, and the deterrent function of roads is no less important than airports. Therefore, the analysis sought to focus on problematic areas and the issue of mobility from a military perspective, in which the priority is considered the Suwalki gap.
According to Gintaras Bagdonas, although inter-institutional cooperation does take place, the cooperation in the field of military mobility almost solely depends on co-financing received from the European Commission. For this reason, there is room for improvement in this field, as a good result can only be achieved through cooperation.
Lastly, the discussion touched upon the use of Lithuania’s military budget. The analyst was sceptical of using the military budget to improve the logistics infrastructure. In his opinion, even if such use of the budget is possible, it wouldn’t be beneficial from the point of view of the military, because Lithuania’s roads are ports are a part of the public sector. Therefore, the national priorities should be tailored to military needs.