Michael Fallon announced to Parliament today that the UK will contribute 3000 personnel to the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) from 2016. This increase will come ahead of the UK taking on the role of lead nation in the VJTF in 2017, and on rotation thereafter.
The VJTF is a multinational high-readiness force, including maritime, land, and air units, which will serve as a ‘Spearhead force’ to respond at short notice to any threat to NATO. The task force, which is currently being developed by a number of Allied nations including the UK, was launched at the NATO Summit in Newport in September and is on track to achieve operational readiness by 2016.
The UK has already made a significant commitment to the task force, including infantry, an armoured battle group, and combat support elements such as artillery and engineer regiments, which will be bolstered by the additional personnel.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
These additional 500 troops show our commitment to the Task Force and our leadership within the Alliance. We’re putting our most experienced and capable troops at the heart of NATO’s collective defence.
Good progress is being made in getting the new Task Force ready to operate next year. The UK is contributing a full battle group to the Spanish-led VJTF and we will lead the fully operational force in 2017.
Speaking at the NATO Defence Minister’s meeting in Brussels earlier this year Mr Fallon said that the UK, as the lead nation in 2017, will contribute manpower to two regional headquarters in Poland and Romania and to force integration units in the three Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
The VJTF is part of the NATO Readiness Action Plan (RAP), which provides a comprehensive package of measures to respond to changes in the security environment on NATO’s borders and further afield that are of concern to Allies. In recent months the UK has deployed thousands of personnel from across all three Armed Services on a range of NATO reassurance exercises in Eastern Europe.