NATO Defence Ministers take further steps to enhance collective defence
NATO Defence Ministers took further steps on Thursday (8 October 2015) to make the Alliance’s collective defence stronger. “This sends a clear message to all NATO citizens: NATO will defend you. NATO is on the ground. NATO is ready,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The Ministers reviewed the implementation of the Alliance’s Readiness Action Plan. The Plan, agreed by NATO leaders at their Summit in Wales last year, ensures NATO’s readiness to confront challenges in an evolving and fast-moving security environment.
They gave their green light to the completed military concept for the Enhanced NATO Response Force, including its command and control arrangements. “We now have everything in place to make the Response Force stronger, faster and more capable,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. The Ministers also agreed to set up two more NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs) or small headquarters in Hungary and Slovakia. Six other NFIUs were activated in September in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. The Secretary General also welcomed the announcement by Germany to lead the Alliance’s very high readiness Spearhead Force in 2019 and plans by the United Kingdom to rotate more troops into the Baltics and Poland for training and exercises.
The Defence Ministers also held a discussion on Syria and the recent violations of Turkish airspace by Russian aircraft. The Secretary General called on Russia “to play a constructive role in the fight against ISIL,” adding that NATO stands in strong solidarity with Turkey. They also discussed the security situation in Afghanistan. The Secretary General said that Allies will later this year decide on the troop levels and where they will be based. This will be done on the basis of a detailed security assessment, which is expected in the coming weeks.