"You will face a difficult task – not only serving in the severe winter conditions in Afghanistan but also preparing for 2013 completion of the mission entrusted to Lithuania and handing over the responsibility for security to Afghanistan's national security forces," Defense Minister Rasa Juknevičienė said in a statement cited at the farewell ceremony.
Planned to leave for the operation district in early November, PRT-16 will primarily consist of soldiers of National Defense Volunteer Forces and also include troops of other units – doctors, war engineers, and logistics specialists.
The shift is headed by Lieutenant Colonel Linas Kubilius who has served in various military units and an international operation in Iraq.
Together with PRT-16, groups of advisers of Military Advisers and Operational Coordination Center are leaving for Afghanistan. They will cooperate directly with officers of Afghanistan's National Security Forces.
"As the process of handing over responsibilities for security to local forces is gaining momentum in Afghanistan, the main task of the Lithuanian-manned PRT in Ghor is to prepare Afghanistan's National Security Forces, with a focus on the advisory function," the Defense Ministry said.
Lithuania's government recently decided to withdraw Lithuanian troops from Ghor by the end of 2013. With the PRT closed, Lithuanian special operators and Air Force training team will stay in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in southern Afghanistan.
About 150 Lithuanian soldiers serve in Ghor as part of the 250 soldiers present in Afghanistan at the moment.