NATO Foreign Ministers announce interim Spearhead Force
NATO Foreign Ministers on Tuesday (2 December 2014) announced that an interim Spearhead Force would be operational early next year to improve the Alliance’s readiness, and agreed to maintain a continuous NATO presence in the eastern part of the Alliance through next year. “We are going to implement the Readiness Action Plan on time and in full,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The ministers discussed progress in implementing the plan at their meeting. The plan is a response to the changed security environment in Europe including Russia’s aggressive actions in and around Ukraine, as well as violent extremism the Alliance faces to the south. This is “the biggest increase in our collective defence since the end of the Cold War,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. He added that the plan would enable NATO “to meet any threats from wherever they come.” The Secretary General said that implementation has already begun, through an increased presence “in the air, at sea and on the ground in the eastern part of our Alliance”. He stressed that “all 28 Allies will contribute to this effort into the next year.”
“So we will be 28 for 28 through 2015, to assure Allies and to deter threats,” the Secretary General said.
Ministers also discussed progress on setting up the Spearhead Force. NATO Defence Ministers will decide on the force’s size and design in February with the aim to stand it up in 2016, Mr. Stoltenberg said. The force will be able to deploy within a few days. In the meantime an interim Spearhead Force will be created and will be available early next year. That force will be based mainly on troops from Germany, the Netherlands and Norway and will “provide the quick reaction capability we need, straight away,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
Ministers also discussed the importance of working with partner countries to make their security sectors more efficient and transparent. The Secretary General noted that “we have been working closely on this issue with Georgia, Jordan and the Republic of Moldova.” NATO will embed experts in these countries to provide advice on training and defence reform. The Alliance’s contributions will include a new NATO-Georgia training centre, military exercises and border security in Jordan, and continued support to Moldova. “Our aim is to prevent crises before they arise,” Mr Stoltenberg said, “because we all agree that prevention is better than cure.”