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NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force

Volume 596: debated on Monday 8 June 2015

Significant progress has been made on the very high readiness joint task force. The interim force is established and the operational force will be ready by the Warsaw summit next year. We will contribute a battle group to the Spanish-led task force next year, and we will lead a fully operational task force brigade from January 2017. Our contribution that year will increase from 2,500 to 3,000 personnel.

Given reports in recent days of attacks against Ukrainian forces by Russian forces and separatists backed by Russia, what is NATO doing to deter such aggression, and could a rapid task force play an important role in that?

We are continuing to press for sanctions to be upheld against Russia. We are helping Ukrainian armed forces with trainers at six different sites in western Ukraine, training and improving the capacity of the Ukrainian armed forces. We have troops exercising in eastern Europe—in Romania and the Baltic—and our Typhoons are flying every day this summer to help to protect Baltic airspace.

23. The need for the development of a NATO very high readiness joint task force is reflected in the deteriorating wider security situation, particularly with the Russians. That is not wholly consistent with relying on 30,000 reservists as part of our armed forces. If the wider security situation continues to deteriorate, will the Secretary of State review that reliance? (900139)

We have not yet got to the stage where Future Force 2020 has been completed. We have time enough to ensure that our total of 30,000 reservists is reached, but my hon. Friend will recall our manifesto commitment of no further cuts in the size of the regular armed forces.