Speaking at the NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels today (8 October), Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that company sized units will now be deployed to the Baltics and Poland on a regular basis to provide reassurance and training support. The deployed units will build on existing deployments wherever possible.
The move, which will form part of the US-German Transatlantic Capability Enhancement and Training (TACET) initiative, builds on Britain’s contribution to policing Baltic air space. RAF Typhoons have been deployed to the region each year since May 2014 and will return in 2016.
This contribution will benefit the UK in several ways, including building the capacity and capability of our regional allies, enhancing interoperability with our armed forces, maintaining the UK’s regional leadership, reaffirming the UK’s commitment to NATO and collective security, and offering training opportunities and regional knowledge.
The initiative also gives the UK the opportunity to coordinate its deployments with the US and Germany, which demonstrates a clear UK commitment to enhance our bilateral relationships with Germany, and sustains our relationship with the US.
One of the aims of TACET is to coordinate military training and exercises in the Baltic States and Poland, to provide reassurance and develop capability and resilience.
Mr Fallon has also announced an uplift to the number of UK training personnel based in Ukraine and an increase in the capacity to deliver training by a third.
The Defence Secretary chaired a meeting of five NATO nations that are providing training and equipment to Ukraine to identify further areas for collaboration and increased cooperation.
The UK has already stepped up the training programme in Ukraine to include additional infantry, medical and survival skills, and increase the number of Ukrainian soldiers being trained.
We are providing non-lethal assistance that has been requested by the Ukrainian Government to enhance the capability of their armed forces to defend themselves.
19 UK teams have operated in Ukraine to train nearly 1,600 members of the UAF at eight training sites. The operation remains on course to have trained more than 2,000 UAF troops by the end of the financial year.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
We are committed to supporting the sovereignty of the democratic nations of Eastern Europe. We are already deploying RAF jets to the Baltics and providing crucial training to the Ukrainian armed forces.
Now we will have a more regular drumbeat of troops deploying in the Baltics and Poland, and will step up our training effort in Ukraine.
The UK’s permanent representative to NATO, Sir Adam Thomson, said:
This meeting came at a crucial time for the Alliance. There’s an arc of instability along NATO’s periphery, with new challenges and threats.
Change is already underway in NATO to respond. The Readiness Action Plan is on track. The spearhead force is launched. All Allies are contributing to Assurance Measures - 28 for 28.
And the UK is playing a leading role - as today’s announcement clearly shows. The UK is committed to the defence of our Allies and to projecting stability in NATO’s neighbourhood.