Saturday, June 22, 2024

NATO says can deploy 3.5mn soldiers if attacked

NATO, in accordance with its new defense plans, can deploy 300,000 soldiers in the first month of a potential attack on the bloc, while the total number of the alliance’s military personnel could reach 3.5 million people, Chair of the NATO Military Committee Adm. Rob Bauer has stated.

“If we are talking about collective defense, you do not have the time to prepare for an attack if the attack happens. And it is not us planning the attack, it is the opponent planning the attack. If they attack, you have to be ready,” Bauer told reporters at a press conference with Norwegian Chief of Defense Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen on Saturday.

“Therefore, we need more soldiers at high readiness,” he stressed.

“We are talking, in NATO as a whole if Finland and Sweden have joined, of about 3.5 million soldiers in the alliance. So the 300,000 is the number … that we foresee at high readiness available for basically the first 30 days if it is necessary,” Bauer added.

In July, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the bloc approved new defense plans at the Vilnius summit under which NATO would have 300,000 soldiers at high readiness and member states would invest at least 2% of gross domestic product annually in defense.

Bauer also confirmed that the US-led military alliance is preparing to hold next year its largest drills since the Cold War with thousands of troops in Germany, Poland and the Baltics.

He announced that the massive military exercise, dubbed “Steadfast Defender”, is scheduled to take place next year in Germany, Poland and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“In 2024, the alliance will be holding its largest collective defense exercise since the Cold War: Steadfast Defender. Over 40,000 troops from across the alliance will exercise in Germany, Poland and the three Baltic States,” Bauer was quoted as saying by NATO at a press conference in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

Stressing that NATO is stepping into a “new era of collective defense,” Bauer added the bloc needs to do “much more” to supposedly protect itself against “current threats, but also against reconstituted threats and potential future threats.”

The admiral also criticized the NATO members’ lack of commitment to what he called a solid security foundation and once again reaffirmed the bloc’s determination to provide Ukraine with arms in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

NATO annually holds several drills, mostly land-focused, to ensure that the alliance’s forces are trained and to test their interoperability and readiness to respond to what it slams as “threats.”

Earlier this week, the Financial Times daily reported that the Steadfast Defender drills would involve more than 50 ships and between 500 and 700 combat air missions close to Russian borders. The paper added the exercises were scheduled to be held in February and March 2024.

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