The eight-day battlefield circulation kicked off in Latvia at the Latvian Armed Forces Joint Headquarters near Riga with a formal briefing of friendly capabilities, and challenges within and outside of the country. The discussion set the tone for rest of the trip that concluded with a meeting at Polish Ministry of National Defense in Warsaw, Poland with Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces General Rajmund T. Andrzejczak.
I think this is critical because I now see the difference in terrain...
Lieutenant General Cloutier observed and walked key terrain with leaders of all three nations to visualize the unique challenges each country faces in regards to deterrence objectives.
"I think this is critical because I now see the difference in terrain," Lieutenant General Cloutier said to the commander of Lithuania Land Forces Brigadier General Raimundas Vaikšnoras during a meeting. "I appreciate where you come from and your focus on readiness every day."
LANDCOM commander Lieutenant General Roger Cloutier speaks with commander of Lithuania Land Forces Brigadier General Raimundas Vaikšnoras to learn about capabilities and challenges within Lithuanian and NATO force structures during a visit to the Lithuania Land Forces Headquarters on 26 February 2021.
While it was the first visit for the commander to the Baltics, it was also the first visit for any LANDCOM leader to Multinational Division North, a NATO command formally created in Latvia on March 8, 2019 and activated October 21, 2020.
"This headquarters is still under development, so it is a huge honor to brief the commander," said Brigadier General Lennie Fredskov, MND-North's Chief of Staff. "We hope to give the commander an impression of where we are trying to head, not only as a headquarters, but as a division across the borders of two nations."
Lieutenant General Roger Cloutier gets oriented to key terrain within Lithuania on 27 February, 2021
"We discussed the current issues of our cooperation, common training, exercises, and the nearest plans for the future," said Polish Army Brigadier General Bogdan Rycerski, commander of 15th Mechanised Brigade in reference to his meeting with Lieutenant General Cloutier. "Interoperability is a never ending story."
Lieutenant General Roger Cloutier and LANDCOM Command Senior Enlisted Leader listen to the commander of 15th Mechanized Brigade Brigadier General Bogdan Rycerski during a meeting at eFPBG Poland on 27 February, 2021.
The trip also offered Lieutenant General Cloutier the opportunity to meet the soldiers within NATO and host nation units, and get familiarized with their capabilities and to connect on a personal level.
Chief Warrant Officer Mathers and Lieutenant General Cloutier are greeted by Chief of Defense Staff Lithuania Armed Forces BGEN Mindaugas Steponavicius before a working dinner on 26 February, 2021.
"Your leadership and I have been in the Army a long time," Lieutenant General Cloutier said to four Polish soldiers while presenting them commander's coins. "And the higher up you go, unfortunately, the further away you get from soldiers. We have to remember: at the end of the plans and the arrows we draw on our maps are young soldiers like you who are going to execute those plans."
The effects of the tour will be felt for years to come through greater inclusion of forces during exercises, further development of relationships, and pursuit for optimal combat readiness and deterrence within the region.