Lithuanian military link NATO road accidents to intensity of drills
The Lithuanian military link the three road accidents involving NATO soldiers that have occurred in four days to the intensity of exercises underway in the country.
"We don't link this to infrastructure. Our allies are satisfied with our infrastructure and it doesn't impede that movement," Captain Tomas Pakalniškis, spokesman for the Lithuanian Armed Forces' Joint Staff, told BNS.
"It's just that this is a long, difficult and large-scale exercise. That's why some mishaps, accidents do happen," he added.
Thirteen American soldiers were injured last Thursday when four US Stryker armored vehicles smashed into each other on a road in the district of Prienai, in southern Lithuania.
In a second accident, an US armored vehicle drove off the road and crashed into a tree in Kazlų Ruda, in southwestern part of the country, on Saturday night, injuring three American soldiers.
Two French soldiers were injured when their ATV overturned in the eastern district of Švenčionys on Sunday.
The Lithuanian military gave no details about the accidents, but traffic police said on Monday that the US armored vehicle on Saturday night was driven by a tired soldier who dozed off at the wheel, based on preliminary information.
"That tiredness isn't the least important thing. The US convoys headed for Latvia have already travelled about 1,500 kilometers from Germany," Pakalniškis said.
"We are happy that no civilians were involved or injured," he added.
Two large military exercises -- the national Thunder Strike and the multinational Saber Strike -- are currently taking place in Lithuania, involving up to 13,000 troops in total.
Also, the Baltops multinational maritime exercise is underway the southern Baltic Sea.