Boosting NATO’s presence in the east and southeast
An important component of NATO’s strengthened deterrence and defence posture is military presence in the eastern and south-eastern parts of Alliance territory. Allies are implementing the 2016 Warsaw Summit decisions to establish NATO’s forward presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and to develop a tailored forward presence in the Black Sea region.
- NATO is enhancing its forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, with four multinational battalion-size battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, on a rotational basis.
- These battalion-size battlegroups, led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States respectively, will be robust, multinational, combat-ready forces demonstrating the strength of the transatlantic bond, and making clear that an attack on one Ally would be considered an attack on the whole Alliance.
- It is part of the biggest reinforcement of Alliance collective defence in a generation.
- NATO is also developing a tailored forward presence in the southeast of Alliance territory with a land element built around a multinational framework brigade, under Multinational Division Southeast in Romania and coordinated multinational training through the Combined Joint Enhanced Training Initiative.
- NATO is also increasing its presence in the Black Sea region on land, at sea and in the air with several Allies ready to contribute with forces and capabilities.
More background information
As part of NATO’s strengthened deterrence and defence posture, Allies agreed at the 2016 Summit in Warsaw to enhance NATO’s military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.
NATO’s enhanced forward presence is defensive, proportionate, and in line with international commitments. It represents a significant commitment by Allies and is a tangible reminder that an attack on one is an attack on all.
Beginning in early 2017, NATO’s enhanced forward presence will comprise multinational forces provided by framework nations and other contributing Allies on a voluntary, sustainable and rotational basis.
They will be based on four rotational battalion-size battlegroups that will operate in concert with national home defence forces, and will be present in the host countries.
Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States are the framework nations for the robust multinational presence in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland respectively.
Other Allies confirmed contributions to these forces: Albania, Italy, Poland , Slovenia and Spain will contribute to the Canadian-led battlegroup in Latvia; Belgium, Croatia (2018), the Czech Republic (2018), France (2018), Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway will join the German-led battlegroup in Lithuania; Denmark (2018) and France will contribute to the UK-led battlegroup in Estonia, and Romania and the United Kingdom will join the US-led battlegroup in Poland.
It will also be complemented by the necessary logistics and infrastructure to support pre-positioning and facilitate rapid reinforcement.
The four battlegroups will come under NATO command.
At the 2016 Summit in Warsaw, Allies also agreed to develop a tailored forward presence in the south-eastern part of Alliance territory through land training within a multinational framework brigade in Romania. This means more NATO forces, and more exercises and training under Headquarters Multinational Division Southeast (in Romania). This will contribute to the Alliance's strengthened deterrence and defence posture, situational awareness, interoperability and responsiveness.
NATO is also developing measures to increase its presence in the Black Sea region. A number of specific measures for a strengthened NATO maritime and air presence in the region were approved by defence ministers at their meeting in October 2016 and several nations pledged forces and capabilities to NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region, on land, at sea and in the air. Eight Allies have committed to providing brigade staff. Five Allies have committed land and air forces for training and air policing.
On 16 February 2017, defence ministers agreed on two additional maritime measures: an increased NATO naval presence in the Black Sea for enhanced training, exercises and situational awareness, and a maritime coordination function for NATO Standing Naval Forces when operating with other Allied forces in the Black Sea region.
Allies agreed at the Wales Summit in 2014 to implement the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) in order to respond swiftly to the fundamental changes in the security environment on NATO's borders and further afield.
Building on the RAP, Allies took further decisions at the Warsaw Summit in 2016 to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence posture and to contribute to projecting stability and strengthening security outside of Alliance territory.
Together, these decisions are the biggest reinforcement of Alliance collective defence in a generation. Combined with the forces and capabilities required for rapid reinforcement by Follow-on Forces, these measures will enhance the security of all Allies and ensure protection of Alliance territory, populations, airspace and sea lines of communication, including across the Atlantic, against threats from wherever they arise.
At their meeting on 26 October 2016, Allied defence ministers confirmed troop contributions to the four battalion-size battlegroups: Albania, Italy, Poland and Slovenia will contribute to the Canadian-led battlegroup in Latvia; Belgium, Croatia, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway will join the German-led battlegroup in Lithuania; Denmark and France will contribute to the UK-led battlegroup in Estonia, and Romania and the United Kingdom will join the US-led battlegroup in Poland. Later on, Spain confirmed its contribution to the battlegroup in Latvia.