Country Overview U.S. FOREIGN POLICY AND FOREIGN ASSISTANCE OBJECTIVES & PRIORITIES
The Baltic States are critical to the security and long-term stability of Northern Europe. Thus a key U.S. foreign policy objective is to promote the integration of these states into Euro-Atlantic security and economic structures. Lithuania’s accession into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) in 2004 marked an important milestone in achieving this objective.
Lithuania has made a good deal of progress in bringing its military forces into conformity with NATO standards and requirements. Current U.S. assistance to Lithuania is focused on further strengthening these defense capabilities. By supporting Lithuania's development of a credible modern military force, fully deployable and interoperable with NATO forces, the United States is fostering stability in the region, and assisting a valuable ally. Lithuania continued to deploy its troops alongside our own in theaters such as Afghanistan and Iraq during FY 2007, and has continued to do so in FY 2008.OPERATING ENVIRONMENT
The overall environment in Lithuania in FY 2007 had no adverse affects on U.S. interests in the region, but on the contrary was very supportive of American interests both in Northern Europe and beyond. Lithuania remains committed to the model of a liberal, open-market society. Its frequent changes in government have not lead to major shifts in public policy. Economic policy, for example, has been based on fulfilling Lithuania's agreements with the International Monetary Fund and satisfying the criteria for entry into the European Union so as to ensure that Lithuania's basic taxation structure, welfare and labor policies, and government regulation were aligned with the requirements for creating a market economy. When major change has occurred, for example in the social security system, it has had the support of all of the country’s major political parties.
FY 2007 Country Program PerformancePEACE AND SECURITY
The primary objectives of United States Government (USG) security assistance in Lithuania are twofold: to support Lithuania's development of a credible modern military force that is fully deployable and interoperable with NATO forces and the international coalition in Iraq; and to foster stability and dialogue in the region.
In FY 2007 the USG trained 56 defense-related personnel how to interoperate with U.S. and other NATO forces, including English language instruction. Participants included mid-grade officers, senior non-commissioned officers, and military specialty personnel. Additionally, the USG sold unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Lithuania’s Special Forces, who deployed them for use in Afghanistan, providing force protection and target acquisition to NATO forces. The USG also gave grants to Lithuania’s Warfare Training Center to cover hardware costs, contractor support, software, and licensing fees. Lithuania has already certified one battalion as NATO Article V capable, and is making great strides towards certifying a second battalion by 2009.
Lithuania continued to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and international peacekeeping operations in the Balkans in FY 2007. It also maintained its leadership of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Afghan province of Ghor.