BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) intends to increase the size of its Response Force from 13,000 to 30,000, the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.
Part of this enhanced force will include the establishment of the Spearhead Force, which is expected to include some 5,000 personnel able to be deployed within a few days, Stoltenberg said before the meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at the defense minister level.
“It is a response to what we are seeing from Russia over a period of time, and it is in full accordance with our international obligations,” he added, referring to the crisis in Ukraine that the alliance is blaming Moscow for escalating.
The secretary general also said that he expected the ministers to decide on the establishment of six command and control units to be located in six of NATO’s eastern allies, serving as a link between the countries’ national defense and NATO forces.
The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a multinational force comprising land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces elements that can be quickly deployed.
At its Wales summit in 2014, NATO decided to set up the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), a spearhead within the NRF that is to be deployed at the periphery of the alliance’s territory. Earlier in January, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove said the initial readiness of the Spearhead Force would be about seven days.
NATO has been strengthening its military presence in Eastern Europe in light of the Ukrainian crisis, accusing Russia of its involvement in the conflict. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations and expressed concern over the buildup of NATO forces along its western border.