The 1st HRVCON to enhanced Forward Presence in the Republic of Lithuania had the send-off…
After seven months spent in service within the Germany-led Battlegroup engaged in NATO EFP in Lithuania.s, the 1st HRVCON“Tigrovi“ returned to its home barracks “Pukovnik Predrag Matanović” in Petrinja in late June from the Germany-led Battlegroup engaged in NATO EFP in Lithuania. The Contingent was composed of the 1st Mechanised Company of the Battalion “Tigrovi“, equipped with Patria vehicles and of the elements of the Battalion and of other units of the Croatian Armed Forces.
They were given a homecoming ceremony in the Barracks on 3 July, which was attended by family members, the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces General Mirko Šundov as Envoy of the President of the Republic, the Assistant Defence Minister Zoran Piličić and other representatives of the Ministry of Defence, of the Ministry of the Interior, of the Military Diplomatic Corps, of the associations from the Homeland War and of the local and regional authorities. “Enhanced Forward Presence demonstrates the will of all NATO member nations to demonstrate strength of defence and deterrence, as well as solidarity with the east European members“, said the French Defence Attache to Croatia Colonel Fabrice Duda in his address.
The deployment to Lithuania has been an important experience for the members of the Contingent and for the Armed Forces in general.”It is an honour, responsibility and a challenge to be the first national unit to serve in a mission or operation, but the Battalion “Tigrovi“ has already taken parr in n NATO- and the EU-led missions and operations. We took many training activities and practice events with the Allied troops and demonstrated high readiness,” said Maj. Krpan, who has earned promotion and assumed the duty of the Commander of the Battalion for his and the Contingent’s excellent performance, recognised also by the allies and partners.
During the engagement in Enhanced Forward Presence the members of the Croatian Contingent had the opportunity to train and upgrade their interoperability with the members of the German, Dutch, French, Norwegian and Lithuanian Armed Forces, and took individual and team training in low visibility and nighttime training, in low temperatures and shooting the individual and crew weapons in day and nighttime conditions. They also performed live-fire tactical drills from the platoon to the company level, and trained in integration of reinforcements. They also took part in NATO exercises “Flaming Thunder“, “Saber Strike“ and “Saber Knight“.
Their final level of trainedness and equippedness is best evident from NATO’s In-Theater Readiness Inspection (Combat Ready); their level of readiness was commended by the French Defence Attaché to Croatia Colonel Duda: “We know the value of “Tigrovi“, who have showed their professionalism and enthousiasm so characteristic of the Croatian Army.“ A member of the Contingent Private First Class Bogdan Saratlija said: ”I is a strong emotion, hard to describe. I am glad to be back with my family, but also appreciate the experience from the international operation, for which I am grateful to my colleagues and commanders and all who made it possible for me“. His colleague, Private Petar Dragičević appreciates the experience too: “we had the opportunity to do new things jointly with allied forces“.
Private First Class, a MP member Ivana Zelembrz said ”We have had great co-operation with all units, there were a lot of female participants who have throughout the time treated as equal and we performed the same assignments as our male colleagues“. The Commander of the Croatian Army, Brigadier General Siniša Jurković reminded of the tragical death of Sergeant Mario Pavišić during the mission in Lithuania during the ceremony, and the late soldier’s wife Ivanka receieved the Lithhianian Armed Forces’ medal of gratitude for contribtion to the mission. ”His live and his achievement, modesty and commitment to the duty and to the unit belong to “Tigrovi“s story. Brig. Gen. Jurković also stressed that the Contingent members remembered the brave defenders, particularly the members of the 1st Guards Brigade- In remembrance of the deceased colleague Mario Pavišić a Patria vehicle has been named after his nickname (“Drndo“). ”I came here to welcome the second family of my Mario. I wish them and their families all the best; they went through the pain too, they witnessed to his death, but found the strength to go on all these months. I appreciate the support provided to my family and me . The Croatian soldiers will never be abbandoned, “Tigrovi“ care for each of its members“, said late Mario Pavišić’s father Slavko.
”Croatian Armed Forces are a reliable force“
“I hope this engagement in a multinational environment has been of use for learning and making progress at the professional and personal level. Top-level training, immense experience and invaluable lessons learned commit you to pass on your knowledge and experience to your colleagues. Your safe return home proves that we are responsible, professional and well-trained armed forces the international community, and above all Croatian citizens can rely on“.
The Croatian contingent represented the Croatian Armed Forces but also promoted the Croatian economy. The static displays showcased the Croatia-made weapons and equipment of Croatian production, and the meals-ready to eat promoted the Croatian food industry . The Contingent also took part in the activities by the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia to Lithuania – the Day of Croatian Non-Material Cultural Heritage and the Croatian Film Days, promoting Croatia’s culture and tourism. Rev. Slavko Rajić recited masses daily, and the Contingent members also took part in a pilgrimage to the sanctuary “Hill of Crosses“ in Lithuania, where a Croatian cross was placed too. They had also an opportunity to learn the Lithuanian language, culture and history and took part in fundraising and blood donation campaigns and helped moveg and refurbis the space and the surrounding of the Society for the Physically Disabled in Kaunas.