France tokk 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.
“I thank France for leading NATO’s rapid reaction force in 2022,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “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,” Mr Stoltenberg added.
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.
The leadership of the VJTF, which places soldiers on high readiness status and ready to deploy in days, rotates annually among Allies. France takes over from Turkey, which led the force in 2021. Germany will lead the unit in 2023. NATO’s joint force command in Brunssum, the Netherlands, holds the command for the entire NATO Response Force in 2022.