''Greater solidarity, strength and readiness'': NATO Secretary General marks opening of six new headquarters in Eastern Allies
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attended the inauguration of a NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Vilnius, Lithuania on Thursday (3 September 2015), calling the opening “a big step forward towards greater solidarity, greater strength, and greater readiness.” The Lithuanian NFIU is one of six small new headquarters activated this month in Lithuania, as well as in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania.
Speaking at the official ceremony alongside President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė, the Secretary General explained the value of the new small headquarters, saying “they will ensure that, should our forces need to move, they can move quickly and effectively. And they help send a very clear message: no NATO Ally stands alone.”
Set up in response to new security challenges, the NFIUs are small headquarters and not military bases. They are part of the Readiness Action Plan, the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence since the end of the Cold War. Manned by around 40 staff each, half national and half international, the NFIUs will help in rapid deployment of Allied forces to the Eastern part of the Alliance if necessary. They will also support collective defence planning and help coordinate training and exercises.
At a joint press conference with President Grybauskaitė, Mr Stoltenberg thanked Lithuania for its commitment to NATO and for the role it plays in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Further highlighting the country’s contributions, the Secretary General said, “You show leadership on important NATO initiatives – like the Energy Security Centre of Excellence, which you host here in Vilnius.” He further welcomed Lithuania’s determination to increase defence spending over the coming years, calling this “an example for other Allies”.
During his visit to Vilnius, Mr Stoltenberg is also meeting with Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius and with Defence Minister Juozas Olekas.