NATO's new high-readiness force to reach capability in 2018 ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonian troops taking part in NATO's Trident Juncture 2015 exercise in Spain.
Estonian troops taking part in NATO's Trident Juncture 2015 exercise in Spain. Source: (Siim Teder/Estonian Defense Forces)

The new international high-readiness force in which Estonia is participating will be ready to respond to both military and humanitarian crises by 2018.

The Joint Expeditionary Force consists of elements from seven NATO members: the UK, Estonia, Denmark, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Netherlands. Led by the UK, the nations will be prepared to contribute their forces to joint operations, be it in the field of peacekeeping, crisis management or collective defense.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) was signed on in London on Monday.

Preparations of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in London on November 30 (Photo: UK Ministry of Defense).

According to Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso, who signed the MOU on behalf of Estonia, the country is taking part in the new military cooperation format for two reasons.

“It's important for us to continue our longstanding close cooperation and experience as brothers in arms with the British, with whom we served in southern Afghanistan for eight years,” Hanso said. “Secondly, JEF is a response to the challenges posed by today’s security situation, where we need more high-readiness military forces.”

The signatory states agreed that JEF would be brought into full capability readiness by 2018. The staff has already started work, developing the structure and plan of exercises for the force.

Hanso said it is too early to say what Estonia’s exact contribution will be, as it depends on specific operations. “Certainly we will provide a contribution that is militarily significant and within the capacity of JEF,” he said.

JEF is a high-readiness force made up of military units from seven NATO member states and will include ground, naval and air units. JEF will be capable of deploying to military operations for defending member states, as well as responding to natural disasters and humanitarian crises anywhere in the world.

The UK is leading the move to form the expeditionary force, and called on Estonia, Denmark, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands to participate in the new unit. All of these countries have previous experience serving in international operations.

Editor: M. Oll

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