NATO set to increase its high-readiness forces

Stoltenberg has said NATO’s updated Strategic Concept will likely refer to Russia as the “most significant and direct threat” to security.Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty ImagesNATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said the military alliance is poised to increase the number of its high-readiness forces to well over 300,000 as part of what he described as “the biggest overhaul of collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.”His comments come as NATO leaders prepare to convene in Madrid, Spain this week to decide on the so-called Strategic Concept, the 30-member alliance’s most important document.The text, which is updated roughly every decade, will reaffirm NATO’s values, provide a collective assessment of the security challenges and act as a guide to the group’s future political and military development.Stoltenberg repeated the alliance’s intention to recognize Russia as the “most significant and direct threat” to security in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s onslaught in Ukraine.”Our NATO Summit in Madrid this week will be transformative with many important decisions, including on a new Strategic Concept for a new security reality,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference.”We will transform the NATO Response Force and increase the number of our high readiness forces to well over 300,000,” he added.This pledge reflects an increase of some 650% given that NATO’s enhanced Response Force currently comprises around 40,000 troops.”These troops will exercise together with home defense forces, and they will become familiar with local terrain facilities … so that that they can respond smoothly and swiftly to any emergency,” Stoltenberg said.He added that the substantial military buildup would require further investment from NATO members.Commenting on newly released defense spending figures, Stoltenberg said 2022 will mark the eighth consecutive year of increased spending across European allies and Canada.By year-end, Stoltenberg said they will have invested “well over” $350 billion extra since the group’s Defense Investment Pledge in 2014. This refers to NATO’s agreement for its allied members to spend at least 2% of gross domestic product on defense within a decade.Stoltenberg said the 2% benchmark was “increasingly considered a floor, not a ceiling.”

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