The enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) is a new component of NATO's broader deterrence and defence posture. As a result of increasing its defensive capabilities, the Alliance has already started to deploy four multinational battle groups of about 1,000 soldiers each to the Baltic States and Poland.
Teamwork is the key to success and proves that diversity is not weakness, but strength.
Given its geostrategic location and expertise, Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast (HQ MNC NE) is one of the key players in supporting and effectively implementing the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) concept.
At one table to address the practical aspects of the biggest reinforcement of NATO's collective defence since the end of the Cold War.
"These actions are real! – Lieutenant General Manfred Hofmann, the Commander Multinational Corps Northeast stated. – Behind all the units on our digital maps are men and women who are deploying with equipment to Eastern Europe, coming out of their European home countries or from overseas."
Therefore, all of the stakeholders – including the eFP battle groups commanders as well as representatives of SHAPE and Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFBS) – came together at one table to address the practical aspects of the biggest reinforcement of NATO's collective defence since the end of the Cold War. In total, the conference was attended by fourteen delegations representing twenty-three organisations.
Several high-ranking officials from across NATO participated in a two day "Multinational Corps Northeast Commanders' enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Conference".
"We collectively demonstrate the expression of modern-day NATO's continuing resolve. If we were not to undertake this challenge, who would?" – General Hofmann emphasised.
The decision to pre-position four battalion-sized units on the Eastern flank of NATO was taken at the Warsaw Summit in July 2016. With their multinational composition and robust combat capabilities, these forces should perform the deterrence function, making it clear that an attack on one Ally would be considered an attack on the whole Alliance from the get-go.
"We are here to deter any possible conflict, but we are also prepared to defend, if need be. At the end of the day, this is our home too." – Lieutenent Colonel Steven Gventer, the Commander Battlegroup Poland, stated.
In addition to existing cooperation in a number of areas, the conference has contributed to enhancing many of the procedures and functions within the eFP.
"It was, indeed, very helpful to meet my superior commanders but also my fellow Battlegroup commanders and exchange our first experiences, get a common understanding as well as get to know each other's capacities and capabilities." – Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Huber, the Commander Battlegroup Lithuania, said.
Importantly, the deployment of four battle groups has been essentially supported by the NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs).
"They have made a huge progress. – Brigadier General Krzysztof Krol, the Deputy Commander Multinational Corps Northeast, stated. – In our Headquarters we have developed a concept that enhanced their current tasks and responsibilities. It describes more precisely what their role would be in times of crisis and conflict."
Today, it can be rightly claimed that the NFIUs have passed the test of operational readiness and efficiency. It has been proven by experience that they are fully capable of receiving incoming NATO forces and provide them with all necessary support.
"This is an intensive cooperation on a practical tactical level." – Colonel Urmas Nigul, the Commander NFIU Estonia, explained.
"We have established a very good working relationship with the NATO Force Integration Unit. – Lieutenant Colonel Huber added on his side – We have already benefited from their experience, which helped us a lot to get to Lithuania. We meet on a daily and weekly basis."
On the whole, the conference has demonstrated that the Alliance remains dedicated to its core task, which is collective defence and bolstering the security of all member states.
"Teamwork is the key to success and proves that diversity is not weakness, but strength." – General Hofmann concluded.