BERLIN: To date, around 40,000 soldiers have been organized into the NATO intervention force. According to Secretary General Stoltenberg, that will change in the future. More than 300,000 military personnel should be ready for action quickly in an emergency.
NATO wants to increase the number of its rapid reaction forces from around 40,000 to more than 300,000. As General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg announced before the NATO summit in Madrid, the NATO intervention force NRF is to be rebuilt. It has been on alert for several months because of tensions with Russia.
The planned restructuring of the NRF is part of a new force model for the entire alliance area. This provides for more forces on high alert. In addition, forces should also be assigned to certain areas. This means that German soldiers could be scheduled to support Lithuanian troops in the event of a Russian attack.
According to Stoltenberg, protecting the eastern flank has top priority in the alliance, which currently has 30 member states. He expects that at the NATO summit beginning on Tuesday it will be made clear that the allies view Russia as the "most significant and direct threat," he said. According to Stoltenberg, the existing multinational NATO battlegroups in the member states on the eastern flank should therefore also be expanded to Bridade level.
Details for emergencies
Currently, for example, the one in Lithuania includes 1600 soldiers. A brigade usually consists of around 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers. Germany has already announced that it wants to lead the Combat Troops Brigade in Lithuania. In the country bordering on the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, the Bundeswehr is currently the leading nation in the existing NATO battle group with around 1,000 soldiers. The Battlegroup is integrated into the Lithuanian infantry brigade "Iron Wolf".
In peacetime, the more than 300,000 rapid reaction forces in the future should generally be under national command, but could then be requested by the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe (Saceur) in an emergency. The troops would also be given fixed times for operational readiness. It is being discussed that some units should be ready for laying within 10 days at most, others in 30 or 50 days.
Details for emergencies are to be specified in new regional defense plans, which should be ready next year. The NATO summit in Madrid starts this Tuesday just a few hours after the meeting of the heads of state and government of the leading democratic industrial nations in Elmau. Among other things, NATO wants to decide on a new strategic concept.
China as a challenger
The current version dates from 2010. At that time, the Allies were still hoping that the time of great tensions with Russia was over and were counting on a "real strategic partnership" with the country. China was also not mentioned at all, which is now to change. The new concept will deal for the first time with China and the challenges it poses to NATO's security, interests and values, said Stoltenberg.
It is unclear whether the summit will be overshadowed by Turkey's continued refusal to agree to starting NATO accession talks with Finland and Sweden. The two countries had already applied to join the defense alliance in mid-May and hoped to be able to attend the Madrid summit as invited states. Turkey has so far blocked the admission process. She justifies this by saying that Finland and Sweden support "terrorist organizations" such as the banned Kurdish Workers' Party PKK and the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG - which both countries reject.