The Pennsylvania National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) has partnered with the country of Lithuania since 1993 as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program. Through this security cooperation program, the PNG has hosted Lithuanian personnel and participated in USAREUR, EUCOM, and NATO exercises. This includes support to the International Security Forces in Afghanistan, a National Training Center rotation in California with the PAARNG, a visit from the sitting Lithuanian President to Fort Indiantown Gap, and the first PA Governor visit to Lithuania and Poland. A PA National Guardsman serves as the Bilateral Affairs Officer in Lithuania to coordinate security cooperation events for the PNG, multiple other service components, the Geographic Combatant command and the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
The Pennsylvania State Partnership Program (PA-SPP) executes joint security cooperation engagements with the Republic of Lithuania in support of EUCOM (U.S. European Command) objectives and the Department of State initiatives facilitating unity of effort in order to sustain the enduring relationship, build capacity, improve interoperability, and deter potential adversaries furthering the defense of Lithuania’s sovereign borders, Euro-Atlantic security, and the Homeland.
The Republic of Lithuania, located at the geographical center of Europe, is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east/southeast, Poland and the Kaliningrad region of Russia to the southwest, and a 43 mile coastline along the Baltic Sea to the west. Slightly larger than West Virginia, the population is approximately 3.7 million, comprised of 80 percent ethnic Lithuanian, with the remaining 20 percent split between Russian, Polish and Belarusian. The most common religious affiliations are Catholic and Lutheran.
Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was illegally occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet Republics to declare its independence; subsequently restructuring its economy for integration into Western European institutions. Lithuania became a full-fledged member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on March 29, 2004 and the European Union (EU) in May, 2004. While modest amounts of recoverable oil have been discovered in the western part of the country and in adjoining areas offshore, the country remains dependent on imports for fuel and raw materials. During 2001, Lithuania continued to successfully utilize its geographic location to advance its international trade objectives. The country has completed numerous free trade agreements which create monetary and fiscal policy as well as an improving economic situation in the country has pushed the rate of inflation down to single digit levels. Lithuania’s economic freedom score is 76.7, making its economy the 16th freest in the 2020 Index. Its overall score has increased by 2.5 points, due primarily to a higher government integrity score. Lithuania is ranked 9th among 45 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is well above the regional and world averages.