“The Alliance has achieved quite a lot on stronger deterrence and defence since the Warsaw Summit but we have to make sure the launched security initiatives are continued and their implementation is accelerated,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said at the NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels on June 7. He stressed that the speed of decision-making is one of the key conditions of efficient collective defence and therefore urged Ministers to apply every solutions that would enable NATO forces to respond immediately in case of a crisis or conflict.
NATO Defence Ministers also agreed on the establishment of new headquarters in the US and Europe and agreed to the 4×30 increased NATO readiness initiative committing to have 30 mechanized battalions, 30 air squadrons, and 30 combat vessels ready to respond to crises within 30 by 2020. The forces would support the present NATO Response Force.
“The adapted NATO command structure and the decision to increase force readiness will ensure a quick and smooth deployment of troops over the Atlantic and in Europe in the event of a crisis or conflict, as well as will enable the forces to respond immediately without delay,” R. Karoblis said. According to him, those were the decisions particularly important to Lithuania and the entire region of eastern Alliance. “Our geographical position makes us the most sensitive to threats and interested in smooth and quick deployment of allied forces.”
One of the new headquarters will be established in Norfolk, USA, for ensuring sea route safety and possibility to send enforcement from North America to Europe. Another headquarters will be based in Ulm, Germany, for logistic and military mobility and for ensuring smooth movement of army forces in Europe for the purpose of collective defence.
Welcoming the agreement on new headquarters, R. Karoblis invited Ministers to also take the final decision on another army headquarters near Alliance’s eastern border quicker – its presence would ensure better efficiency of the NATO collective defence in the Baltic states and Poland. NATO Defence Ministers are expected to have agreed on the concrete location of the headquarters by the end of the year.
Minister also underscored once more the necessity to strengthen air defence in the region.
The NATO Defence Ministers session also addressed defence spending. In the discussion over an equal burden sharing the need to fulfil commitments was underscored as well as the fact that the majority of countries are increasing defence spending. Lithuania is among the 8 allies that allocate 2 percent of GDP or more for defence needs. “Proper financing is not only meeting an important commitment – it is a way to remove defence deficiencies, improve deterrence and readiness of NATO forces,” Minister says.
The decisions taken at the NATO Defence Ministers meeting will be fully approved at the NATO Summit on July 11-12.