Germany has taken the lead of NATO’s highest-readiness military force, placing thousands of troops on standby and ready to deploy within days.
The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) was created in 2014, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and crises in the Middle East.
Germany takes over from France, which led the force in 2022. In response to Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine in February this year, NATO deployed elements of the VJTF to Romania on the unit’s first ever collective-defense mission.
“Germany is an important ally and we thank Germany for leading the VJTF in 2023”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
“As Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine continues to threaten peace and security in Europe, there must be no doubt about NATO’s resolve to protect and defend every inch of allied territory. The VJTF is NATO’s first responder and a key part of our collective defense. Germany’s leadership is a strong display of its commitment and capabilities.”
The VJTF is the highest-readiness element of NATO’s Response Force. VJTF leadership and membership rotate annually among allies.
In 2023, VJTF land forces will comprise around 11,500 thousand troops, with the Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 at its core. The unit had been expected to employ the Puma infantry fighting vehicles for the mission, after they were declared operational in 2021. However, recent trials revealed major flaws with the vehicles and the unit will have to use older Marder vehicles as a fall back solution until the Puma IFV returns to service.
In total, nine NATO allies (Belgium, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia) will contribute.
Among the major units are Germany’s Panzerbataillon 393, Artillerielehrbataillon 345, Versorgungsbataillon 131 and Transporthubschrauberregiment 30.
For the first time, Germany also leads the VJTF’s designated special forces command.