On 2 September, the new academic year at the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania began with the ceremony of change of the Academy’s commandant. According to the traditions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Colonel Juozas Kačergius, who headed the Military Academy, handed over the flag of the Academy to the Minister of National Defence, Arvydas Anušauskas, who handed it over to Brigadier General Almantas Leika, taking over the leadership of the Military Academy.
Congratulating the audience, Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas addressed the cadets starting the new school year: “During your studies, excellent and experienced professionals, instructors and teachers of the Academy will provide you with excellent knowledge and give you various assignments. Take advantage of it and act and believe in what you are doing. Currently, the Lithuanian Army is stronger than ever before – we have the most modern weaponry and we are a member of NATO, the strongest and most powerful defence alliance in the world. However, the most important part of the armed forces is the educated, healthy, brave and motivated officers who will lead their soldiers to victory.”
“Cadets, you are the defenders of Lithuania. Not someday, tomorrow or a year from now, but right now. All of your who have sworn or will soon swear to spare no effort and life to defend our country. Today, as never before, your relatives, commanders, and all of Lithuania look to you with hope, faith and trust. Let this oblige you, but at the same time inspire you to learn and share ideas, and courageously build a team,” wished Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys, the Chief of Defence of Lithuania. “I am convinced that the new commandant of the Academy Brigadier General Almantas Leika will successfully lead this military and academic community.”
Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys thanked Col. Kačergius for his excellent leadership of the Academy, which trains officers and thus helps the Lithuanian army to meet the ever-increasing need for commanders.
The Chair of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence, Dr. Laurynas Kasčiūnas, commanders and chiefs of the military forces and units of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, defence attachés of foreign countries residing in the country, former commandants of the Academy, rectors of Lithuanian higher education institutions and other guests, as well as the community of the Military Academy of Lithuania participated in the event together with the leadership of the Ministry of National Defence and the Armed Forces.
The new commandant, Brigadier General Almantas Leika thanked the Minister of National Defence and the Commander of the Armed Forces for the trust and honour granted to him to lead the Military Academy, and Col. Kačergius – for his leadership, work accomplished and help in handing over this responsible position.
Addressing the Academy community, Brigadier General Leika congratulated all those present on the occasion of the Day of Science and Knowledge and emphasised that the work performed by the Academy in training officers is widely known both in Lithuania and beyond. “I feel a special honour and challenge that together with you, as a member of a united team, I will be able to contribute to the implementation of this honourable mission – training officers for the Lithuanian Armed Forces, so that they are true patriots of our homeland, professionals in their field, commanders and leaders, capable of leading soldiers on a battlefield, and are broad-minded,” said the new commandant of the Academy.
Brigadier General Almantas Leika began his service in the Lithuanian Armed Forces in early 1991, during a difficult time for the country, in the National Defence Volunteer Forces as a founding volunteer of the army. During his military service, he participated in trainings and missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, the Netherlands and Poland, held various leading positions in units of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, the Ministry of National Defence, and foreign institutions.
Brigadier General Leika studied at the Military Academy of Lithuania, the Baltic Defence College, and the US Army War College.
The officer was awarded the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Medal of the Order of the Cross of Vytis, the Medal of the Founding Volunteers of the Lithuanian Army, the January 13th commemorative medal, other military awards and awards from NATO and foreign countries.
About the Military Academy of Lithuania
During the event, the Military Academy of Lithuania also celebrated the Day of Science and Knowledge. The Academy is the only higher education institution in Lithuania that provides university and military education. It trains military leaders who are ready to head the units of the Lithuanian Armed Forces in times of war and peace.
The cadets are taught by specialist teachers holding highly qualified degrees and military instructors who have gained professional experience in international operations. Cadets who have successfully graduated from the Military Academy of Lithuania are awarded the officer’s first rank (lieutenant), the platoon commander qualification and a bachelor’s degree. They are usually appointed to the position of platoon commander in units of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
Photos by Eimantas Genys