NATO Agrees on new ‘Spearhead’ Force to meet Global Threats

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( — September 10, 2014)  — “NATO members agreed Friday to form a “spearhead” force of several thousand land troops ready to deploy within a few days as the trans-Atlantic alliance grapples with the threats posed by Russia’s interference in Ukraine and the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq” NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

The troops would be backed by air, sea and special forces support, he said, with a command and control center and extra equipment in Eastern Europe.

“This decision sends a clear message: NATO protects all allies at all times” Rasmussen said on the second day of a NATO summit in Newport, Wales. “It sends a clear message to any potential aggressor: Should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance.” said Rasmussen.

The Baltic States and Romania have already offered to host the troops and Poland, the largest NATO state in Eastern Europe, is expected to house the headquarters.

The Baltic States have been among the most vocal advocates of NATO strengthening in the region, but the organization is bound by a 1997 agreement with Russia, which bars it from placing permanent bases in Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia.

 “We must be able to act more swiftly,” said UK Prime Minister David Cameron, whose country said that it will provide up to a quarter of the new force’s troops.

Rasmussen rebuffed Moscow’s warning that if Kiev made steps to join NATO, it would undermine the chances of reaching a lasting compromise in Ukraine.

“No third country has a veto over NATO enlargement. NATO’s door remains open. Each country will be judged on its merits,” said the former Danish Prime Minister.

Nonetheless, Ukraine, which has made intermittent moves towards joining the alliance in the last decade – and whose Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk called for membership earlier this week – is not currently being considered, despite being granted a symbolic aid package from the alliance on Thursday.

“The alliance must stick to previously made statements that such an opportunity may appear possible only in the long-term future,” said Norway’s Conservative prime minister, Erna Solberg.

“Ukraine is still a neutral state, bounded by its regulations and the security situation in the region. The whole of Ukraine must undergo essential changes before it joins NATO,” she added.

On the other hand, Georgia, which fought a war with Russia in 2008, has made progress: it was included on the shortlist of countries looking for ‘enhanced co-operation’ with NATO, alongside Australia, Finland, Jordan and Sweden.

“We agreed on a substantive package of measures for Georgia… that will help Georgia advance in its preparations towards membership of NATO,” said Rasmussen.

The Polish capital Warsaw has been chosen as the venue for the next NATO summit in 2016, after Rasmussen said that the choice of location would “send a strong signal of Polish involvement in the alliance and a very visible presence by NATO in the eastern regions of the alliance.”