NATO: French army back to Lithuania with Leclerc MBTs and VBCI ICVs

Starting this month of July, 300 personnel of the French Ground Force (Armée de Terre) and Gendarmerie are being deployed in Rukla, Lithuania, in the framework of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) operation.
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VBCIs of the French 5th Dragoons Regiment (Picture source: Facebook page of the 5e Régiment de Dragons)

The return of French forces to Lithuania in July takes the form of the deployment of 5 Leclerc tanks, 14 VBCIs (armored infantry fighting vehicles) and 5 VAB armored vehicles. These means, more important than in the past (one more Leclerc tank), will be provided by the 5th Dragoon Regiment (5 RD).

After a blockage by Turkey, which was haggling for support for its current operation in northern Syria, NATO has given the green light for a new defense plan for the Baltic countries and Poland, called "Eagle Defender". The increasingly harsh opposition between France and Turkey over the conflict in Libya and Syria greatly complicates relations between these NATO members.

Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) is a NATO-allied forward-deployed defense and deterrence military posture in Central Europe through Poland and Northern Europe through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, in order to protect and reassure NATO's Central and Northern European member states on NATO's eastern flank of their security. Following Russia's invasion of Crimea and its support to Ukrainian separatists in Donbas, the NATO member states agreed at the 2016 Warsaw summit to forward deploy four multinational battalion battle groups to those NATO member states perceived to be most at risk of a possible Russian attack or invasion.