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 implemented 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 has enhanced 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 battlegroups, led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States respectively, are robust, multinational, combat-ready forces. They demonstrate the strength of the transatlantic bond and make 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 has also a forward presence tailored to the southeast of Alliance territory and in the Black Sea region. Allies are contributing forces and capabilities on land, at sea and in the air.
- The land element in the southeast of the Alliance is built around a multinational brigade, under Multinational Division Southeast in Romania and is coordinating multinational training through a Combined Joint Enhanced Training Initiative. In the air, several Allies have reinforced Romania’s and Bulgaria’s efforts to protect NATO airspace.
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.
Fully deployed in June 2017, NATO’s enhanced forward presence comprises multinational forces provided by framework nations and other contributing Allies on a voluntary, fully sustainable and rotational basis.
They are based on four rotational battalion-size battlegroups that operate in concert with national home defence forces and are present at all times 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, Czech Republic, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain contribute to the Canadian-led battlegroup in Latvia; Belgium, Czech Republic, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway have joined the German-led battlegroup in Lithuania; Denmark, France and Iceland contribute to the UK-led battlegroup in Estonia; and Croatia, Romania and the United Kingdom have joined the US-led battlegroup in Poland.
Enhanced forward presence forces are complemented by the necessary logistics and infrastructure to support pre-positioning and to facilitate rapid reinforcement.
The four battlegroups are under NATO command, through the Multinational Corps Northeast Headquarters in Szczecin, Poland. Multinational Division Northeast Headquarters (MND-NE) in Elblag, Poland coordinates and supervises training and preparation activities of the four battlegroups.
At the 2016 Summit in Warsaw, Allies also agreed to develop a tailored forward presence in the south-eastern part of Alliance territory. On land, this presence is built around the Romanian-led multinational brigade in Craiova. In the air, several Allies have reinforced Romania’s and Bulgaria’s efforts to protect NATO airspace.
In addition, Turkey strengthens security in the region with maritime patrol aircraft flights and support to NATO Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) aircraft. In the Black Sea, NATO is active with more ships and more naval exercises.
This means more NATO forces, and more exercises and training under Headquarters Multinational Division Southeast (in Romania), which became fully operational in June 2017.
Tailored forward presence contributes to the Alliance's strengthened deterrence and defence posture, to Allies’ situational awareness, interoperability and responsiveness.
NATO is also developing a number of additional measures to increase its presence in the Black Sea region. Specific measures for a strengthened NATO maritime and air presence in the region are being implemented, with a number of Allies contributing forces and capabilities.
NATO’s rapid reinforcement strategy also ensures that forward presence forces will be reinforced by NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, the broader NATO Response Force, Allies’ additional high readiness forces and NATO’s heavier follow-on forces, if necessary.
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. Contributions will be made on a voluntary, sustainable and rotational basis.
Ministers also decided a number of tailored measures to increase NATO presence in the southeast of the Alliance on land, at sea and in the air with more multinational land training, combined joint enhanced training, more maritime activity and increased coordination.