Brunssum, The Netherlands - Commander JFC Brunssum, General Salvatore Farina, took part in the inauguration ceremony of the Slovakian NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Bratislava on Tuesday 24 January; this is the eighth and last NFIU to officially join the network established along the Eastern flank of the Alliance.
The ceremony was attended, amongst other dignitaries, by the Slovakian Minister of Defence (Mr Peter Gajdoš), NATO's Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy (Ambassador Tacan Ildem), the Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (Lieutenant General Steven M Shepro) and the Slovakian Chief of Defence (General Milan Maxim).
Commander JFC Brunssum is responsible for the implementation area that includes the NFIU in Slovakia, together with those established last year in Poland, the three Baltic States and Hungary which, together, represent one of the NATO Readiness Action Plan's key measures in fulfilment of the decisions coming from the Wales Summit.
General Farina, in his remarks, stressed the importance of this new addition to the Alliance and commended the hard work of Slovakian officials and NFIU staff to establish this headquarters and get it operational in less than two years.
He emphasized the key role played by this NFIU within the Alliance via its 'mission to assist the host nation in developing the ability to enable reception and support of the Enhanced NATO Response Force (eNRF), including the VJTF, in order to enhance Alliance responsiveness'. All eight NFIUs also 'provide a visible, forward NATO presence in the east of SACEUR's (Supreme Allied Commander Europe's) area of responsibility' and are 'critical to building and maintaining strong, standing relations with in-country personnel on behalf of NATO forces'.
Commander JFC Brunssum also underlined that '2017 will be an ambitious year, and the NFIUs form a key element in the intensive NATO and multinational exercise plan', being not only a facilitator, but also being 'part of the actual deployment preparations'.
'NFIUs represent a multinational effort', being staffed with personnel both from the host nation and from several contributing nations, and 'every service member brings the expertise necessary to make the NFIU a smart, agile and above all, joint military headquarters' - General Farina pointed out - and 'with this latest NFIU in Slovakia we add more capability, expertise and enthusiasm into NATO's NFIU network'.
General Farina concluded his remarks by welcoming the Commander of the Slovakian NFIU, Colonel Zekucia, and his multinational team into the 'operational family in support of the Alliance's security', wishing them good luck for their important job and granting support from all across the operational chain of the Alliance in the execution of their mission.
On behalf of the NATO Secretary General, Ambassador Ildem expressed his thanks to the government and the people of Slovakia 'for their strong support to NATO', underlining how this robust network of NFIUs in central and eastern Europe is already performing 'several critically important functions for NATO and our collective security' that 'symbolises NATO's solidarity and commitment to collective defence' and represents 'an important step toward greater security for Slovakia, for NATO as a whole, and for future generations'.
The Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Lieutenant General Shepro, representing General Pavel (Chairman NATO Military Committee) at the ceremony, emphasized that this official opening 'attests to how our Alliance remains relevant and adaptive in today's complex and uncertain world', because today the NFIU network completion 'marks the achievement of one pillar of the Readiness Action Plan', with the new NFIU in Slovakia 'playing a key role in NATO's collective defence'.
After the 2014 Wales Summit, elements of the Readiness Action Plan were enacted, and one of the key measures was the planned establishment of 8 NATO Force Integration Units within the territories of NATO's eastern allies, as a clear and tangible sign of NATO's continuing commitment to defend all member states.
The NFIU in Slovakia will achieve its full capability in June 2017 after a validation exercise.
Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office