brussels - The 29 NATO countries must be able to quickly mobilize a large army in 2020 in the event of a threat. Thirty mechanized battalions, thirty squadrons of warplanes and thirty warships must then be able to conduct a crisis within a maximum of thirty days.
The defense ministers of the alliance will give the green light for this so-called 4x30 plan at headquarters in Brussels on Thursday. 'It is essential in an increasingly unpredictable world that we have the right troops in the right place at the right time', according to NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. A battalion consists of 600 to 1000 men and a squadron of at least ten planes.
Partly because of the Russian 'assertiveness', the alliance has been increasing its readiness for a long time, especially at the insistence of the Americans and Eastern European countries. To react faster, the command structure is also changing.
Two new command centers will be set up to streamline military shipments across land and sea, in Ulm and Norfolk in the US, respectively. The number of NATO employees goes up by more than 1200, among them about fifty Dutch people.
The Netherlands plays a pioneering role in improving military mobility in Europe, both at NATO and the EU. On Wednesday, the European Commission proposed to allocate 6.5 billion euros after 2020 for making roads, bridges and railways tank-proof.
Work is also being done to eliminate legal (customs) obstacles. According to Stoltenberg, the project can become a 'flagship' of NATO. 'It is easier for tourists to travel through Europe than for our soldiers. How is that possible ?, Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld asked for a symposium on this subject on Thursday.
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