Analysing international policy processes and Lithuania’s role in them
Review Nov 08, 2021

Military mobility development: the situation now and the challenges ahead

Key highlights:

  • In armed conflicts of today, military mobility is one of the key factors helping to deter an adversary’s actions. The effectiveness of Lithuania’s defence and the country’s defensibility directly depend on smooth and quick deployment of NATO Allies’ forces in our country.
  • When faced with a military threat, the security of Lithuania directly depends on the speed with which NATO Allies’ forces can be redeployed to our country, and it is therefore essential to ensure that military mobility becomes one of the key national security priorities with sufficient resources and effort provided for it. It should be emphasised that military mobility primarily serves as a deterrent. However, the benefits gained from it – in the form of a well-developed national transport infrastructure – serve the well being of the society at large.
  • NATO documents and multiple security studies of the last few years have all emphasised the pressing need to develop synergies between NATO, EU institutions and EU Member States so as to resolve military mobility vulnerabilities in Europe, because the political and institutional instruments that help to resolve most of the issues in this field lie precisely in the hands of the EU and the national governments.
  • On 10 July 2018 the EU and NATO signed a joint declaration, making military mobility on of the key areas of EU-NATO cooperation. It involves regular reports on the progress made in developing transport infrastructure, improving procedures and optimising cross-border transportation authorisation procedures.
  • The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) – a multi-year (2021–2027) financial programme instrument – allocated the funding of EUR 1.5bn (or EUR 1.69bn in today’s prices) for improving military mobility.
  • There are several specific priorities set for transport infrastructure development in Lithuania (such as renewing infrastructure of the Via Baltica route segment between Marijampolė and the Lithuanian border; constructing Kaunas Intermodal Terminal (with the 1435 mm standard gauge) that meet the needs of military transportation and additional facilities as part of the Rail Baltica railway development project), but the needs in this field are greater than that. For example, it is essential to set up a second military mobility corridor, namely the Augustów (Poland) – Lazdijai – Alytus – Vilnius route, because relying on a single land route (the Via Baltica) for military needs is neither safe, nor effective. The Lithuanian Armed Forces have prepared a list of transport infrastructure development needs for improving military mobility, which specifies more than twenty public sector infrastructure items, which must be improved or have yet to be built.
  • Military mobility development efforts have already shown some clear results: thanks to the joint effort of Lithuanian institutions, certain infrastructure improvement works have already been completed; Lithuanian institutions have managed to speed up the issuing of authorisations for Allies’ requests to arrive to Lithuania; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Transport and Communications are cooperating with each other on preparing an application for EU funds to co-finance the dual-use TEN-T transport network.
  • It is essential to improve inter-agency coordination, especially with respect to planning and allocating funds for infrastructure development projects. This would likely help reach the needed decisions in a more effective manner – primarily, to prepare and approve the national military mobility plan and improve the national legislation needed to resolve other issues related to military mobility.

Ans. Col. Gintaras Bagdonas is a former NATO Military Staff Representative in Sakartveli and Liaison Officer in the South Caucasus. He has served as Director of the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence, Head of the Lithuanian Special Mission in Afghanistan, Chief of the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, Director of Intelligence of the EU Military Staff, Director of AOTD (Military Intelligence and Counterintelligence).