NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg has said that Turkey has volunteered to be a leading country along with six other nations in forming the alliance’s “spearhead unit,” known as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), in 2021 following Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s offer to assume responsibility for the unit.
“The VJTF is a brigade that will be able to deploy within 48 hours and will eventually include 5,000 troops. It is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF), NATO’s high-readiness force comprising land, air, sea and Special Forces units capable of rapid deployment wherever needed,” according to NATO’s official website.
Stoltenberg said on May 14 at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in the southern Turkish city of Antalya that “We are already implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War, boosting the size of the NATO Response Force and also establishing a high readiness Spearhead Force as the centerpiece of the enhanced NATO Response Force.”
Davutoglu stated, "Preparedness and responsiveness have become two indispensable elements when shaping our security and defense policies. It is with this understanding that Turkey has offered to assume the responsibility of framework nation in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force for 2021," speaking on May 13 at the NATO foreign minister meeting.
Davutoglu noted that Turkey’s region faces many challenges including intra-state conflicts, ethnic and sectarian divisions, and domestic power struggles with cross-border effects.
"Turkey feels the direct impact of every development that emerges from areas of instability surrounding [our] southern and eastern flanks. We are poised to act with our allies in order to make a vital and constructive contribution in facing the full spectrum of challenges," he added.
The VJTF or “spearhead force” was created by the allies as a part of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan at the Wales Summit in 2014.
The Readiness Action Plan (RAP) is NATO’s response to changes in the security environment, particularly on the eastern and southern periphery of its territory where Turkey is located and where the recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine have taken place.
The RAP aims to ensure that the alliance is ready to promptly and firmly meet any security challenges.