Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has authorised support to allies in the East of Europe in order to boost NATO rapid response capability.
The news comes as British forces are planning to play a leading role in the recently announced NATO deployment to Poland and the Baltic States.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
“I confirm today that Britain will be leading one of four framework battalions to offer more Enhanced Forward Presence on the Eastern flank. We are sending a strong signal of unity and our determination to defend the Baltic states and Poland in the face of continued Russian aggression.”
According to an MoD press release, the package includes:
- 500 troops to Estonia to provide reassurance and to react immediately to any crisis or incident.
- Thousands of troops on standby to deploy within days, wherever needed, as the UK leads NATO’s quick reaction spearhead force.
- Around 150 personnel with equipment to deploy to Poland to operate and train alongside each other to improve interoperability.
- A target to train 4000 Ukrainian soldiers by the end of March 2017.
Attending the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Mr Fallon said:
“These deployments show Britain taking a leading role in NATO, protecting the security of our Baltic allies. We can do this because we are increasing defence spending every year for the rest of the decade.”
These deployments are on top of the work the UK already does to help NATO bolster the defence of allies in the region. We have:
- Committed to a minimum of 2% of GDP spend on Defence and have set in motion the most significant programme of strengthening collective defence in a decade.
- Contributed four RAF Typhoons to the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission until the end of August. The jets are on 24/7 standby to respond instantaneously to encroachment in NATO airspace.
- Participated in joint exercises such as Exercise Anakonda in Poland – the largest exercise in 2016 which included 800 troops and Army vehicles.
- Contributed five ships including HMS Iron Duke, HMS Ocean and HMS Pembroke to exercises in the Baltic Sea.
- Continued to train the Ukrainian Armed Forces in countering-IEDs, operations in urban environments, medical care, logistics and operational planning. The UK has also gifted over £1million worth of equipment to the country.
- Provided reassurance and training support to the armed forces of the Baltic States and Poland as part of the US-German-UK Transatlantic Capability Enhancement and Training (TACET) initiative.
The news follows reaction to Britain’s vote to leave the EU which officials claim will not impact the NATO alliance, US Secretary of State John Kerry predicts “an even stronger NATO going forward”.
“We have high expectations of a very strong NATO meeting and important deliverables. That will not change one iota as a consequence of the vote that has taken place.”
In Brussels Kerry met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“After the UK decided to leave the European Union I think that NATO has become even more important as a platform for cooperation between Europe and North America but also defence and security cooperation between European NATO allies.”
A House of Commons briefing paper claims that the direct impact of BREXIT on the UK armed forces is minimal.