Lithuanian Special Operations Force
|Lithuanian Special Operations Force|
|Lithuanian: Lietuvos Specialiųjų Operacijų Pajėgos|
|Role||counter-terrorism operations, special missions (direct action, special reconnaissance, rescue of hostages, unconventional war and protection of VIPs)|
|Part of||Lithuanian Armed Forces|
|Nickname(s)||"Žaliukai" ((in English) like “forest / green brothers”); "Aitvaras" (named after a traditional Lithuanian mythological spirit; also translates to kite)|
|Engagements||War in Afghanistan (2002-2015) (2018-2021) |
EU Navfor Med (2017)NATO Response Force (2008- Present)
|Lithuanian Armed Forces|
The Lithuanian Special Operations Force (LITHSOF) (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Specialiųjų Operacijų Pajėgos) is a special operation unit of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, formed exclusively of carefully selected, motivated and specially trained professionals. The main tasks of the Special Operations Force are counter terrorism, special reconnaissance, and hostage rescue.
The Lithuanian Special Operations Force has been in operation de facto since 2002 and it was established de jure on April 3, 2008, when amendments of the National Defence System organisation and military service law came into force. SOF is formed from the Special Operations Unit.
Structure and tasks
The structure of the Lithuanian Special Operations Force is flexible which makes it easy to form squadrons intended for specific operations and missions from its elements. It consists of:
- Special Operations Force (SOP - Specialiųjų Operacijų Pajėgos) in Vilnius
- Vytautas the Great Jaeger Battalion (VDJB - Vytauto Didžiojo jėgerių batalionas) in Kaunas. Main tasks: special reconnaissance, direct action, raids, ambushes, terrain blocking, fire support.
- Special Purpose Service (YPT - Ypatingosios paskirties tarnyba) in Vilnius. Main tasks: counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, special operations on land, water and air.
- Combat Divers Service (KNT - Kovinių narų tarnyba) in Klaipėda. Main tasks: special operations in water, boarding operations, coastal reconnaissance, infiltration ashore, special underwater operations and support during hostage situations. The unit can be compared to the United States Navy SEALs or the British Special Boat Service.
- Air Force Special Operations Element (SOG - Specialiųjų operacijų grandis) (operationally subordinated to SOP) in Šiauliai. Main tasks: infiltration and exfiltration, patrolling and aerial reconnaissance, fire support, transporting and medical evacuation.
- Training and Combat Support Center (MKPC - Mokymo ir kovinės paramos centras) in Vilnius.
Soon after Lithuania re-established its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990, the need arose to form armed units. One of the first such units was Aukščiausiosios Tarybos Apsaugos Skyrius ("Supreme Council Security Section"). One of the main tasks of this unit was to protect the Lithuanian Parliament. In the following years, the Lithuanian army underwent various restructuring processes. After the reorganization of Kaunas Vytautas the Great motorized infantry battalion in 1995, the separate Vytautas the Great Jaeger Battalion (named after Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas the Great) was established, which would become one of the core units of Lithuanian Special Operations Force.
Unofficial formation of the Special Purpose Service was started in 1995; after two more years the Service was officially established. After the 9/11 terror attacks, the main tasks of the Special Purpose Service became counter-terrorism, terrorist liquidation and hostage rescue. Members of the Special Purpose Service are called Žaliukai, meaning green-men and were named after the Forest Brothers.
After a 2007 reorganization, the Combat Divers Service (CDS) was established, whose main task became special underwater and surface operations.
Among the most secretive Lithuanian Special Operations Force units are squadrons referred to by the codename Aitvaras (named after a traditional Lithuanian mythological spirit). The first public acknowledgment of the existence of Specialiųjų Operacijų Junginys (SOJ) "Aitvaras" (Special Operations Unit "Cockatrice") was in 2000, when Lithuanian sailors were captured in Guinea. Aitvaras carries out classified missions.
The Lithuanian Special Operations Force units have participated in a number of missions. From 2002 to 2004 squadrons of the Aitvaras were deployed to the "Enduring Freedom" operation in Afghanistan. Preparedness and execution of tasks by the SOF squadrons have been especially noted by the coalition partners.
From 2005 to 2006, the Lithuanian Special Operations Force was on the operational half-year stand-by period in the NATO Response Force. Since the autumn 2007, SOF have taken part in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission in southern Afghanistan. In 2008 soldiers of the SOF continued their service in the NATO Response Force.
In 2017, Lithuanian government has made a decision to send 20 soldiers group to the mission in Medditeranian EU Navfor Med including soldiers from navy forces, land forces and special operations forces. Lithuanian SOF are close friends and partners with US Navy Seals, US Marines, US Green Berets, US Army Rangers, Polish, Latvian, Estonian, German, French, British and Ukrainian SOFs. Alone and together with partners Lithuanian SOF participate in exercises and missions abroad and in Lithuania.
Special Purpose Service board a U.S. Army helicopter during Exercise Flaming Sword 2016
- ^ "Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania". Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
- ^ "Amendment of article 11 of the National Defence System organisation and military service law". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
- ^ a b "SOJ "Aitvaras" istorija ir dabartis" (in Lithuanian). Archived from the original on 2009-04-25. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- ^ "Vytauto Didžiojo jėgerių batalionas (VDJB)" (in Lithuanian). Krašto apsaugos ministerija. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- ^ "Ypatingosios paskirties tarnyba (YPT)" (in Lithuanian). Krašto apsaugos ministerija. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- ^ "Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania :: News » News archives » News archive 2004 » News archive (2004 - 12)". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- ^ "Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania :: News » News archives » News archive 2009 » News archive (2009 - 03)". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- Lithuanian Ministry of Defence site
- Lithuanian Special Operations Force official site
- Video presentation of Lithuanian Special Operations Force
- Video presentation of Vytautas the Great Jaeger Battalion