As part of NATO’s adaptation to security challenges from the east and the south, the Alliance has established eight Force Integration Units in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. This follows a decision taken at the Wales Summit in September 2014 as part of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan: a comprehensive package of measures designed to respond to the changed security environment on the Alliance’s borders.
The first ‘wave’ of six NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs) have been active as of September 1, 2015 and became fully operational ahead of the 2016 Warsaw Summit. The latest NFIUs, in Hungary and Slovakia, have been activated on September 1, 2016 and are expected to be fully operational in 2017.
The NFIUs are based in Sofia (Bulgaria), Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), Vilnius (Lithuania), Bydgoszcz (Poland), Bucharest (Romania), Szekesfehervar (Hungary) and Bratislava (Slovakia).
NATO’s core task is to keep Allies safe. These small headquarters represent a visible and persistent NATO presence in these eight Allied nations. All NATO steps to reinforce collective defence and increase readiness are defensive, proportionate and in line with our international commitments.
What will these NFIUs do?
These small headquarters will help facilitate the rapid deployment of Allied forces to the Eastern part of the Alliance, support collective defence planning and assist in coordinating training and exercises. They are not military bases.
The NFIUs are a vital link between national forces and forces of other NATO Allies. They will also work with host nations to identify logistical networks, transportation routes and supporting infrastructure to ensure that NATO’s high-readiness forces can deploy to the region as quickly as possible and work together effectively to help keep our nations safe.
How will they be staffed?
Each unit will be manned by around 40 national and NATO staff. Each host nation will provide 20 national staff and NATO Allies will provide 20 multinational staff on a rotational basis.
How were the locations chosen?
The decision on the location of the NFIUs was taken by the North Atlantic Council, following invitation by the host nations and a military assessment.
To further enhance the responsiveness of the Alliance, NATO is currently considering establishing additional NFIUs.
Who will pay for the NFIUs?
As with all NATO deployments, the staff working at the NFIUs will be paid by their respective nations. Construction and maintenance costs for the buildings are met by the host nations. Part of the costs are met via common funding which is paid for by all 28 Allies. This includes, for instance, the provision of collectively owned equipment such as computers and communication links.
The NFIUs are part of NATO’s 'Readiness Action Plan'
These small headquarters are part of the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence since the end of the Cold War. At the Wales Summit in September 2014, Allied leaders approved the Readiness Action Plan: a comprehensive package of measures to respond to the changed security environment on NATO’s borders. The activation of the NFIUs demonstrates that the implementation of the Readiness Action Plan is on track and on time.
NATO is also increasing the speed and strength of its rapid-reaction forces, which will consist of up to 40,000 troops. Their core is the Spearhead Force, whose lead elements will be able to start operating in as little as 48 hours.
NATO has also made its decision-making quicker and more effective. And it is setting up a new logistics headquarters to help move troops more quickly when needed.