Sir, you have observed the way of Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast (HQ MNCNE) towards becoming NATO's Headquarters High Readiness Forces (Land). How is it today to visit a fully operational High Readiness Force Headquarters?
I am following very closely the continuous development of the HQ MNC NE. On this occasion, I would like to congratulate Lieutenant General Manfred Hofmann and his Staff for their daily work. This HQ is the pillar of NATO in this region. In my letter to Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) I have stated that this HQ is an example for the whole Alliance.
Looking to the future, what is the way ahead for NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP)?
We are very satisfied with what we have implemented and achieved so far, but we will do more. We want to enhance the jointness of eFP Battlegroups (BG) and improve their integration within the Host Nation brigades. We will include eFP BG into joint multinational exercises that also involve air and maritime components. This rotational persistent presence of the Battlegroups in the Baltic Countries and Poland is a catalyst in which NATO should invest. It brings standardisation, commonality and mutual understanding. We are lucky because it is under Command and Control of MNC NE and JFCBS. We must not forget that alongside MNC NE and JFCB there is also newly established Headquarters Multinational Division Northeast (MND NE), located in Elblag – Poland. This is another very important pillar of the land domain.
And how do you see the role of MNC NE and MND NE in the near future, Especially within the eFP framework?
First of all, we should think about MNC NE's role in the NATO Command Structure. I see this HQ as Land Component Command (LCC) for the whole northeastern region. In peacetime, LCC is focused on training, exercises and response plans. In an emergency and crisis LCC can direct the insertion of Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), the Follow on Forces and maintain Command and Control of the land units. For me, this is the future and a very important step. I would be very satisfied to see LCC and MND NE together being responsible for direction of eFP BG and other units as deemed necessary by plans and existing security situation.
How do you assess importance of NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs)? What is their role in the deployment of the eFP?
I think that NFIUs are very, very important in order to facilitate the deployment. They give us a better understanding of the in-country situation. They also perform planning role and are involved in the exercises and the eFP. They are small elements, about 40 people strong, but important ones. They are multinational and represent NATO's presence in each of the eight countries (six in MNC NE Area of Operation). We are working on how to improve them and how to increase their role.
General Salvatore Farina, Commander Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCB) paid a visit to Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast.
How do you see regional role of the MND NE in the future and MNC NE in it?
The higher command – LCC – could direct not only the MND NE or VJTF but also other units deployed based on the situational requirement. MNC NE and MND NE will be the land headquarters responsible for what is taking place in the region. I am in continuous contact with MND NE's Commander and his Staff. Therefore, the transition from peace to crisis would be much easier. LCC and MND NE are solid and demonstrate willingness and capabilities.
Sir, you have been in command of JFCBS for almost two years now, how has this period been for you so far?
Fantastic, just fantastic! Of course, it has also been demanding since the first moment I took over. Being JFCBS Commander is a great opportunity. I am in command of such capable elements like eFP, NATO forces in Afghanistan and the enhanced NATO Response Force. And next year, JFCBS will be in stand-by for the NATO Response Force. This is fantastic in all possible dimensions: human, personal, professional. It is a demanding job but I am enjoying it. I am travelling a lot because I want to be physically present with the people. I know MNC NE staff by name almost as good as my staff at JFCBS. It is crucial to say "well done" to people in person and to directly express my intents.