Defence Secretary Michael Fallon today (30 November) committed the UK to a leading role in the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), which will include Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway, and could mean the mobilisation of up to 10,000 troops to tackle crises.
Mr Fallon hosted defence ministers from all six allies at Lancaster House in London for the signing of a memorandum of understanding that will allow each country to train and integrate, sharing knowledge, skills and resources.
The JEF will be a pool of high-readiness forces that can respond quickly to a range of issues, using combat power, conventional deterrence or humanitarian assistance. Such assistance could include setting up responses similar to that deployed to tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
In a world of ever-greater uncertainty and growing threats it’s right that the UK plays a leading role in developing this high-readiness force. Building on our pledges made at the NATO Summit, this demonstrates our commitment to crisis management and cooperative security.
We are stronger together and have agreed to attach forces to the JEF when the time is right. The force will allow the UK and our allies to share knowledge, skills and resources, and will mean we can deliver a rapidly deployable, flexible and integrated joint force.
The UK’s leading role in the JEF demonstrates our commitment to crisis management, co-operative security and being international by design. The concept is distinct from existing treaty organisations, but can complement other multinational high-readiness intervention forces and can support the activities of the UN, NATO and the EU.
The UK’s contribution is expected to include lead commando, airborne, armoured, aviation, air and maritime task groups.
Today’s signing builds on pledges made at the NATO Summit in Wales last year. A letter of intent was signed while all 28 EU defence ministers were in Cardiff aboard HMS Duncan. During the signing, discussions took place on how the agreement will allow the UK and JEF partners to continue with the operational co-operation achieved to date in places like Afghanistan.