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NATO Leaders Announce New Measures to Strengthen Alliance

The NATO Alliance’s 28 leaders announced today at the Wales Summit they had reached agreement on a new Readiness Action Plan. With the resurgence of an aggressive Russia threatening its neighbors and other new threats to collective security, the Readiness Action Plan will “strengthen NATO’s collective defense and ensure the Alliance is ready to deal with any challenge,” according to a NATO news release.

“This is a demonstration of our solidarity and resolve,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “In these turbulent times NATO must be prepared to undertake the full range of missions and to defend Allies against the full range of threats,” he said.

“This spearhead will include several thousand land troops ready to deploy within a few days with air, sea and special forces support,” said Fogh Rasmussen.

He went on to say that the NATO Allies face a security environment characterized by its unpredictability, emphasizing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the ongoing extremist violence in the Mideast, and instability in North Africa.

NATO leaders meet

NATO ministers of defense with counterparts from five partner countries at the Wales Summit. NIDS/NATO Multimedia Library

In the Wales Summit Declaration, the NATO leaders agreed to strengthen the presence of forces in the eastern part of the Alliance on a rotational basis, maintaining a continuous presence and activity in the air, such as the Air Policing mission and more, on land, and at sea. They also agreed upon creating a very high readiness force able to deploy at extremely short notice – a “spearhead unit” – within the existing NATO Response Force.

“This spearhead will include several thousand land troops ready to deploy within a few days with air, sea and special forces support,” said Fogh Rasmussen.

NATO leaders also agreed to a package of measures to help accelerate Georgia’s efforts to join the Alliance, and intensify talks on Montenegro’s candidacy, promising to assess by 2015 whether to allow Montenegro to join the Alliance.

In support of this high readiness force, NATO will pre-position equipment, supplies, and planners, and set up reception facilities and command and control facilities and personnel. NATO leaders also agreed to hold more short-notice exerises, increase intelligence sharing, and upgrade defense plans.

NATO defense ministers secrs

U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon, Minister of Defense of Sweden Karin Enstrom, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. NIDS/NATO Multimedia Library

NATO leaders also agreed to a package of measures to help accelerate Georgia’s efforts to join the Alliance, and intensify talks on Montenegro’s candidacy, promising to assess by 2015 whether to allow Montenegro to join the Alliance.

Other measures agreed upon include improving cyber defense capabilities, strengthening cooperation with partners, and launching a Defense Capacity Building Initiative that would “help the Alliance project stability without deploying large combat forces.”