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Mar 20 2023

NATO Force Integration Unit Latvia provides hands-on expertise for Very High Readiness Joint Task Force

Rīga, Latvia – On March 13-17, more than 40 representatives from Very High Readiness Joint Task Force's (VJTF) land component for 2023, Multinational Division North and other entities visited different sites in Latvia. Facilitated by NATO Force Intergration Unit (NFIU) Latvia, this field visit aimed to broaden the practical knowledge of the Reception, Staging and Onward Movement (RSOM) process in the country and to adjust deployment plans to the region.

Consisting of units at the highest level of readiness, VJTF is the spearhead of the NATO Response Force (NRF) structure. In 2023, the VJTF land forces are led by Germany, i.e. the 37th Mechanised Infantry Brigade (Panzergrenadierbrigade 37), and comprise around 11,500 troops from 9 NATO Allies: Belgium, Czechia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Slovenia. 

In Latvia, the VJTF (L) delegation was helmed by the Commander, German Army Brigadier General Alexander Krone and the Deputy Commander, Royal Netherlands Army Colonel Tjeerd Blankestijn. During the tour, the participants visited the key reception and staging places, such as Lielvārde Air Base and Liepāja Port, and met with Latvian and Allied counterparts to analyse the challenges of the force deployment into the region. They learned about military infrastructure and capabilities, for example, how many cranes are available to off-load containers in ports and about the availability of hangers for helicopters’ maintenance.

Among visited sites, the VJTF (L) delegation was, e.g., at Lielvārde Air Base, Latvia © The Latvian Air Force

The VJTF deployment is a complex task. In a short time, several thousand troops and military equipment have to be deployed, received and moved forward to their final destinations. To make this process as smooth as possible, preparation is the key, and without a proper RSOM plan such deployment might be challenged. 

Since the establishment in 2015, NFIU Latvia has worked closely with NATO’s high readiness forces and the Host Nation to facilitate the rapid and smooth arrival of forces and equipment. This time was not an exemption as NFIU Latvia took the initiative and together with representatives from Multinational Division North and the Latvian Armed Forces prepared and executed the recce around Latvia to provide detailed insight into the infrastructure and logistics of the Host Nation. 

"NFIU's close cooperation with Latvia, Multinational Division North and incoming troops is the key for success for NATO," said Colonel Jānis Gailis, Commander NFIU Latvia. 

We have been working hand in hand with all our experts already for years, and thus have reached the required readiness to bring in NATO reinforcements at any time.
The VJTF (L) delegation was helmed by BG Krone (first on the right) and COL Blankestijn (third on the right) © OR-3 K. Lejnieks
COL Gailis, Commander NFIU Latvia, talks with the VJTF (L) Commander and Deputy Commander © Anda Bergmane  

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Small, Branch Chief Operations and Plans NFIU Latvia, added: "The deployment of the VJTF land component into Latvia would be a huge undertaking, which is why it is important to understand every aspect of this operation beforehand, and to be familiar with the ground over which this activity will take place. Additionally, during this event we further developed relationships between the deploying and receiving forces. This is what truly drives activity, provides a better understanding of each other’s capabilities, and demonstrates what makes NATO so strong."

VJTF was created in 2014, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. VJTF is NATO’s first responder and a key part of our collective defence. With leadership and members rotating on an annual basis, the force is fully operational and can be enabled as a rapid reinforcement capability, in case of a major crisis. If activated, the force will be available to move immediately, following the first indicators and warnings of potential threats before a crisis begins, to act as a potential deterrent to further escalation.

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office based on release by Anda Bergmane, NFIU Latvia

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