"NATO Defence Ministers agreed on an enhanced forward presence in the eastern part of our Alliance," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. The enhanced forward presence will be "multinational, to make clear that an attack against one Ally is an attack against all Allies, and that the Alliance as a whole will respond," he stressed.
"It will be rotational and supported by a programme of exercises; and it will be complemented by the necessary logistics and infrastructure to support pre-positioning and facilitate rapid reinforcement. Our military planners will provide the advice on the size and composition of our enhanced presence this spring," Mr. Stoltenberg added. The Secretary General welcomed the announcement made by many Allies on how they would contribute and pointed out that further decisions will be taken at the Warsaw Summit in July.
Speaking about NATO's continued adaptation to a changed security environment, Mr. Stoltenberg referred to stronger cyber defences and a robust response to hybrid warfare, including resilience and civil preparedness.
NATO Defence Ministers also reviewed progress in connecting NATO's Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets. "This is a key capability for the NATO Response Force. And it enables quick and informed decisions by our commanders and our political leaders," Mr. Stoltenberg said.
Ministers took stock of the implementation of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan. "We agreed that we have accomplished a lot," the Secretary General said. "We have increased NATO’s presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, - with enhanced air policing, maritime patrols and robust exercises. We have agreed assurance measures for Turkey – with Patriot batteries, AWACS surveillance planes, and an enhanced maritime presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Black Sea. We have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force to more than 40,000 troops, with the new Spearhead Force at its core. And we have activated six small headquarters in our eastern Allies, and are setting up two more," he highlighted.
"Defence and dialogue are complementary. NATO remains committed to transparency and risk reductions," Mr. Stoltenberg said. "That is why we agreed to do all we can to support Germany as the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE this year and its efforts for a full modernization of the Vienna Document which governs military transparency. This has a direct impact on Allied forces and operations. So I will name a special liaison to the International Organisations in Vienna to improve our dialogue and our cooperation with the OSCE " he stressed.