NATO Ministers Approve Spearhead Force

NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday approved several new initiatives, including the approval of a new “spearhead force” to rapidly respond to emerging crises on the continent, such as the continued crisis in Ukraine. The ministers also moved to strengthen the NATO Response Force, which will expand to some 30,000 members, according to NATO Secretary Gen. Jens Stoltenberg. The spearhead force will be around 5,000 strong, he added. The “very high readiness force” will be composed of a land brigade, supported by air and naval assets and a special forces element. The NATO ministers also agreed to immediately implement six command and control locations in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, to ensure that NATO forces and others are able “to act as one from the start” of any contingency, support training events and enable rapid deployment. Speaking with reporters in Brussels, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged NATO allies to reaffirm defense commitments made at the Wales summit, and urged caution on calls to send Ukraine lethal arms. Arms are not the “only determining dynamic that goes into how (the Ukraine conflict) is eventually resolved,” he said. Hagel’s comments come one day after Ashton Carter, the nominee to succeed him as Defense Secretary, told Senate legislators he supported sending arms to aid the Ukranian government in Kiev.