Members of NATO’s military committee began meeting in Virginia on Tuesday to get an update from the alliance’s only command in North America and discuss the creation of a quick-reaction force in Europe.
Officials from the military committee are visiting NATO’s Allied Command Transformation through Wednesday.
The Norfolk-based command serves as a type of think tank for the alliance and looks for ways to address current and emerging threats impacting the 28-nation alliance. The committee’s visit to the command occurs once a year. While the discussions are classified, NATO officials said they would focus on developments from a recent NATO summit in Wales, an initiative that calls for interoperable forces as well as the planned quick-reaction force that’s intended to counter Russian aggression in eastern Europe.
“We must make sure that all the nations are aligned with those projects and this is a unique occasion we have to do that in a very open, very frank manner,” said French Air Force General Jean Paul-Palomeros, NATO ACT’s supreme commander.
Details of the quick-reaction force will be worked out in February at a NATO ministerial meeting, but it is expected to consist of 4,000 to 5,000 troops. Among other things, NATO officials are still working out where those troops will be located.
The military committee is made up of senior military officers from each NATO member and is the primary source of military advice to NATO’s civilian decision-making bodies – the North Atlantic Council and the Nuclear Planning Group.
Along with the spearhead force, the Readiness Action Plan approved by President Barack Obama and leaders of the 27 other allied nations includes stepped-up intelligence sharing, an upgrade of defense plans and more military exercises on short notice.
“This is an important event for the military committee because it ensures that the decisions taken by the heads of states and government taken at the Wales summit last month are properly operationalized and we stay focused on our work,” said Danish Army General Knud Bartels, chairman of the military committee, at a news conference at Allied Command Transformation headquarters.
Bartels said that while in Norfolk, the committee would address the “fundamental dimensions” of the rapid-reaction force, but was quick to note that it is still in the conceptual stage and there’s still much for policy makers to decide first.