NATO plans to increase its high-alert forces to over 300,000 in massive military reinforcements – CNBC

Stoltenberg said NATO’s updated strategic concept is likely to refer to Russia as “the most significant and direct threat” to security.

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that the military alliance was ready to increase the number of its high-alert forces to more than 300,000 as part of what he described as “the greatest reconstruction of collective defense and deterrence from the Cold War”.

His comments come as NATO leaders prepare for a meeting in Madrid, Spain this week to decide on the so-called strategic concept, the most important document of the 30-member alliance.

The text, which is updated approximately every decade, will reaffirm NATO’s values, provide a joint assessment of security challenges and serve as a guide for the group’s future political and military development.

Stoltenberg reiterated the alliance’s intention to recognize Russia as “the most significant and direct threat“Security after President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

“Our NATO summit in Madrid this week will be transformative with many important decisions, including a new strategic concept for a new security reality,” Stoltenberg told a news conference.

“We will transform the NATO Response Force and increase the number of our high-alert forces to more than 300,000,” he added.

This promise reflects an increase of some 650% given that NATO’s reinforced response force currently numbers around 40,000 troops.

“These units will be training together with the Home Guard forces and will get to know the local field facilities … so they can respond smoothly and quickly to any emergency,” Stoltenberg said.

‘Denial by denial’

Followed by a coordinated appeal from Russia’s neighbor to strengthen defenses on the eastern flank of Europe. The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine requires a fundamental change in NATO’s existing military structure.

The three countries, all members of NATO and the European Union, have repeatedly called on NATO to ensure a significant increase in the number of foreign troops stationed in the region and to reconsider the alliance’s existing “tripwire” approach.

Instead, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advocated a “denial deterrence” strategy. Such a move could significantly increase the number of Allied forces on Europe’s eastern wing to ensure that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania can fight credibly to protect their territories in the event of a Russian invasion while awaiting reinforcements from the wider alliance.

“At the summit, we will strengthen our front defenses. We will strengthen our combat groups in the eastern part of the alliance to the level of brigades,” Stoltenberg said, noting that strengthening the army will also require further investment by NATO members.

Commenting on recently released figures on defense spending, Stoltenberg said 2022 will mark the eighth consecutive year of increased spending in European allies and Canada.

By the end of the year, Stoltenberg said he would invest more than $ 350 billion since his promise to invest in defense in 2014. This refers to NATO’s agreement that its allied members spend at least 2% of gross domestic product on defense within a decade.

Stoltenberg said the 2% reference value is “increasingly considered a floor, not a ceiling”.

With a focus on Russia, Stoltenberg said NATO’s updated strategic concept would address China for the first time “and the challenges that Beijing poses to our security, interests and values.”

“It will also cover our development approach to a number of other threats and challenges, including terrorism, cyber and hybrid,” he added.

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