NATO Response Force to be tripled, Estonia to add land and sea forces
NATO defense ministers decided on Wednesday to triple the alliance's Response Force from 13,000 to 40,000 personnel.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is assessing the implications of Russia's actions, including the recent announcement of building 40 new nuclear warheads.
“We do not seek confrontation, and we do not want a new arms race. We want to keep our countries safe – this is our job,” he said.
According to Stoltenberg, the force will be ready by next year.
Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser told Eesti Päevaleht Estonia will participate in the force with a land unit in 2017 and possible with a navy unit a year earlier. “No one in NATO predicts a change in the security situation in the near future. It is often said security changes are long-term and long-term answers are needed. NATO will continue to need such a force,” he said.
The ministers also took steps to speed up political and military decision-making, including giving authority to NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe to prepare troops for action as soon as a political decision is made. A new concept of advance planning was also approved.
Details of six small headquarters, 40 people each, were also finalized. The headquarters will be set up in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was in Estonia at the beginning of the week, where he announced the United States will preposition heavy weapons for 5,000 troops countries in the region, including Estonia. At the meeting of NATO defense ministers, Stoltenberg welcomed the move.