France takes the lead of NATO’s highest-readiness military force on Saturday (1 January 2022), for a period of one year. The formation, formally known as NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), was created in 2014 in response to crises in the Middle East and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and is permanently available to move within days to defend any Ally. The VJTF is the highest-readiness element of NATO’s 40,000-strong Response Force.
In 2022, the VJTF will comprise a multinational force of several thousand troops. The Franco-German brigade of 3,500 troops will serve as the core of the force, drawing on the 1st Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Hussar Regiment. Led by France’s Rapid Reaction Corps in Lille, the Franco-German brigade is a bi-national unit, underlining the strong bond between NATO Allies Germany and France. Other NATO countries, including Spain, Portugal, and Poland will also provide forces. The majority of the force is comprised of units from the lead brigade.
“I thank France for leading NATO’s rapid reaction force in 2022. The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force is a substantial contribution to our collective defence, and France’s leadership is a strong display of commitment and capabilities. At a time of unprecedented security challenges, there must be no misunderstanding about NATO’s resolve: we stand together to defend and protect all Allies,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
During the 2014 Wales summit NATO leaders agreed to establish a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). The VJTF will be a high-readiness “Spearhead Force” able to deploy at short notice to threats against NATO sovereignty. It will consist of a land brigade numbering around 5,000 troops, supported by air, sea and special forces. The VJTF would be supported by two more land brigades as a “rapid reinforcement capability” in case of a major crisis. Altogether, the enhanced NATO Response Force will amount to around 30,000 troops. The meeting followed the Crimean crisis and the Russian assertive policy of annexation of a sovereign state that didn’t meet a substantial reaction.