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Stoltenberg: NATO To More Than Double Size Of Elite Force


NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on June 22 that the alliance will approve plans this week to more than double the size of its rapid-response force.

Speaking ahead of a June 24-26 meeting in Brussels, Stoltenberg said, "NATO defense ministers ... [will] make a decision to further increase the strength and capacity of the 13,000-strong NATO Response Force (NRF) to 30,000 or 40,000 troops."

Stoltenberg said the alliance was also making steady progress on beefing up an NRF spearhead unit known as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force with a full complement of resources.

The 5,000-strong unit able to deploy within days, not months, was set up by NATO leaders at a summit in September.

Stoltenberg also said NATO would "speed up" its decision-making process to meet the new challenges, including setting up a new logistics headquarters unit within the overall command structure.

During a trip to Germany, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the United States would contribute special operations forces, intelligence, and other state-of-the-art military assets to the new NATO rapid-response force.

Speaking in Muenster, Carter said the United States is contributing aid because it is “deeply committed to the defense of Europe, as we have been for decades."

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa