The announcement, long awaited by Poland and other countries in the region, was made by the military alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the first day of a NATO summit that has brought 18 presidents including Barack Obama and 21 prime ministers to Warsaw.
Stoltenberg said that from next year the United States will lead a rotating battalion in Poland, Germany will head a battalion in Lithuania, Canada in Latvia and the United Kingdom in Estonia.
All the battalions, which are each to comprise around 1,000 troops, are to be multinational, and will be deployed for six to nine months, then immediately replaced by a successor. They will keep rotating for "as long as neccessary," Stoltenberg said.
He added: “The decisions we have taken today will help keep our nations safe in a more dangerous world.”
Stoltenberg said that “NATO poses no threat to any country” and continues to seek dialogue with Russia.
NATO leaders also pledged to strengthen their cyber defences, and declared "initial operational capability" of NATO’s ballistic missile defence system. “This means that the US ships based in Spain, the radar in Turkey, and the interceptor site in Romania are now able to work together under NATO command and NATO control,” said Stoltenberg.
US President Barack Obama earlier said in Warsaw that a US armoured brigade would arrive in Europe at the beginning of next year, with its headquarters to be located in Poland.
Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz stressed that NATO is a defensive alliance - “one that only responds to threats, in order to defend its members."
During the opening of the Warsaw summit, Polish President Andrzej Duda said: "Today, we must take the next step, creating a multinational, enhanced forward presence in order to strengthen defence and deterrent capability on the eastern flank of NATO.”
He added: "Today, our countries expect us to fulfill our obligations and duties. That is why this summit must bring stability in times of uncertainty, manifest our unity in times of division and ensure security at a time of threats." (pk)