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On January 1, the Polish army took charge of  NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) placing thousands of soldiers on standby and ready to deploy within days. Poland takes over from Germany, which provided the core of the VJTF’s land forces in 2019.

“I thank Poland for leading NATO’s high readiness forces this year”, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, our Spearhead Force, is a substantial contribution to our collective defence and a strong display of Poland’s capabilities. This force is available to move immediately to defend any Ally against any threat. At a time of unprecedented security challenges, it is more important than ever”, the Secretary General added.

Polish Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29A Fulcrum © Wikicommons

The core of the VJTF in 2020 will be Poland’s 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade, supported by units from Poland’s 12th Mechanized Division, the 3rd Transport Aviation Wing, Military Police, as well as logistics experts and Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (C-CBRN) specialists. Around 6,000 soldiers will serve on the Spearhead Force, including around 3,000 from Poland. Units from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Turkey and the United Kingdom will also serve on the force. The United States stands ready to support the VJTF with airpower and other combat support.

The VJTF is made up of land, air, maritime and special forces, and is part of the Alliance’s 40,000-strong NATO Response Force. Exercise Trident Jupiter 19, which took place in November 2019, certified the forces and commands for the 2020 NATO Response Force. NATO’s Joint Force Command in Brunssum has command of the NRF in 2020.  NATO heads of state and government agreed to create the VJTF at the Wales Summit in 2014 in response to a changed security environment, including Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and turmoil in the Middle East. Turkey will lead the VJTF’s land forcesin 2021.

Click here to read 2020 February’s edition of Europe Diplomatic Magazine

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