NATO expansion: Who makes up worlds most powerful defence force?

NATO to increase high-readiness forces to 300,000

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NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – borders stretch from north America to eastern Europe along Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The military alliance was founded after the Second World War to bring an end to years of conflict in Europe and today Jens Stoltenberg, the General Secretary of NATO, announced plans today to “transform the NATO response force” which is facing its biggest challenge for decades.

Russia has repeatedly made threats against NATO members and used NATO membership as justification for its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Members of the alliance stepped up their efforts following Russia’s invasion to add thousands of additional troops to the reaction force and in eastern Europe.

The move would see forces increased “up to brigade levels” – with between 3,000 and 5,000 troops.

This is designed to have the speed and combat readiness to face any threat – including an attack from Russian forces.

Which countries make up NATO’s force?

NATO doesn’t have its own army, but it has a multi-national military command working with its 30 member states around the world.

These include its founding members such as the UK, US and France, as well as newer members such as Poland, Latvia and Estonia.

UK troops carry out NATO missions and are stationed in eastern Europe to bolster the alliance’s eastern front.

British Typhoons flew from Cyprus in February to carry out patrols over Poland and Romania alongside allies.

The UK leads NATO’s battlegroup in Estonia where there are 2,000 troops from Britain, France, Iceland, the US and Denmark, as well as 7,000 host nation soldiers.

The US takes charge of NATO command in Poland where there are more than 130,000 troops stationed made up from the US, UK, Poland, Croatia and Romania.

A NATO battlegroup in Latvia includes soldiers from countries such as Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and others.

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In total, NATO forces amount to nearly 3.5 million personnel, troops and civilians combined.

The US is by far the biggest contributor with a contribution of around 1.35 million troops.

The total strength of the British Armed Forces is around 160,000 troops while France has about 300,000 active-duty soldiers.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, it has made numerous threats to its neighbours, some of whom are NATO members.

Last week, a row over train goods being banned from transiting to Kaliningrad via Lithuania saw tensions heightened.

Before that, Russia warned Finland and Sweden against NATO membership and threatened to place nuclear weapons in the Baltic region as a response.

An attack on any NATO member would involve all countries in the alliance as part of Article Five which states an attack on one is an attack on all.

An increased NATO presence in Eastern Europe will heighten tensions between Moscow and the alliance again in what is a fast-moving situation in the region.

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