Nato’s plans for eastern europe: “spearhead” bundeswehr

According to a newspaper report, the Bundeswehr could be a leader in a NATO rapid reaction force. It is to be ready for action in crises in two to five days.

Only an exercise, but already looks heavily like "spearhead". Picture: dpa

According to the newspaper Die Welt, the Bundeswehr is to temporarily play a key role in protecting NATO’s Eastern and Central European partners, who feel threatened by Russia.

As the paper reported on Saturday, NATO plans to deploy the German-Dutch corps in Munster as the main part of a temporary "spearhead force" at least in 2015. It is to be responsible until the new crisis force decided at the NATO summit is operational. If necessary, it should be able to be supplemented by air and naval units from France and Spain.

A spokesman for the German Defense Ministry told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur that the concept of a rapid reaction force is currently still being developed at NATO. Germany attaches great importance to the project, he said. "As part of this development and as a clear political signal, we therefore also support initial trials in early 2015 in which we are participating."

The spokesman did not provide details, but pointed out that Germany had pledged 4,000 soldiers for the so-called NATO Response Force for the coming year. In 2015, Germany will take over the command of the land forces of this already existing special intervention force for crisis situations on a rotational basis; it is located at the German-Dutch Corps in Munster.

NATO defense ministers meeting

The force must ensure that it is ready for deployment worldwide within 30 days. The "tip of the spear" should be able to be put into operational readiness within two to five days in the event of special threat situations.

NATO initially declined to comment on the newspaper report. It merely pointed out that the strength and composition of the new "spearhead" force would be decided at the NATO defense ministers’ meeting next February. The first units should then be ready for final deployment within a year. According to Die Welt, a senior NATO representative commented on the interim solution: "This is a clear signal to our allies in the east. And a clear signal to Moscow."

As a result of the Ukraine crisis, both the Western defense alliance and Russia have been acting for several months. Russian forces recently flew "exceptionally extensive maneuvers" over European seas, among other things, according to Western sources.

The West accuses Russia of having annexed the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in violation of international law and of supporting the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. As a result, economic sanctions have been imposed on Moscow. Russia rejects the accusations and criticizes the punitive measures as hostile.

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