GALLERY: NATO staff element launched in Tallinn
A ceremony was held at the Defense Forces General Staff yesterday to mark the inauguration of the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) established in Estonia.
"This is just one step in the full implementation of the Readiness Action Plan adopted at the Wales Summit," Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser said in his opening speech. "However, it clearly shows that Allies are stepping up their game. At a time when Russia continues to destabilize the international security environment and the conflict in Ukraine still raises serious concerns, it’s good to see that NATO has adapted well to this new situation. Estonia certainly welcomes the strengthening of NATO’s presence on its eastern flank,” he added. “It’s good to see that NATO has gone back to its roots and its focus is again on collective defense. We are certain that if we continue to be as committed and focused as we have been until now, we will certainly achieve our goals set in Wales by the time we will meet again in Warsaw next year.”
Implementation of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) adopted at the last NATO summit in Wales includes enhancing NATO’s responsiveness, prepositioning stocks of weapons and equipment in member states on the alliance’s eastern flank and adapting NATO’s command structure to the new security situation.
The function of the integration unit is to prepare and support hosting of NATO rapid response units and their activities on Estonian soil. The NFIU ordinarily consists of 40 positions, of which the respective host country fills half. In addition to Estonian Defense Forces members, allies from Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United States and the United Kingdom will take part in staff operations. All of the positions in the NFIU must be staffed by the end of this year.
NFIU is a NATO structural unit supported by the Estonian Defense Forces. Its functions come from NATO Multinational Corps Northeast and mainly relate to preparing for deployment of NATO rapid response forces.
Estonia launched its NFIU on Monday, providing the staff with resources and facilities and staffing key national positions. The ultimate goal is to bring the new structure into complete readiness by the NATO Warsaw Summit in 2016.
Participants at the ceremony included Estonian Defense Forces personnel serving on the NFIU, Minister of Defense Sven Mikser, Chief of Defense Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, Deputy Commander Allied Joint Force Brunssum Lt. Gen. Graham Stacey, and ambassadors and defense attaches of Alliance members.