He was speaking after Poland on Wednesday took charge of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) for a one-year term that ends on December 31, 2020.
"This is undoubtedly a reflection of the confidence our allies place in the Polish Army, and it is also proves the capabilities of our soldiers," Błaszczak said during a ceremony in which Poland’s 21st Podhale Riflemen Brigade took over as the lead unit of the NATO force.
"Through our activities, through the high training level of Polish troops, our position in the Atlantic Alliance is growing, adding to our credibility and demonstrating that our NATO allies can rely on Polish Army soldiers," Błaszczak added during the ceremony in the southeastern Polish city of Rzeszów on Thursday.
Poland's Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak speaks during a ceremony in the southeastern city of Rzeszów on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Darek Delmanowicz
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this week thanked Poland for leading NATO’s high readiness force this year.
Stoltenberg was quoted as saying on NATO’s website that the “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, our Spearhead Force, is a substantial contribution to our collective defence and a strong display of Poland’s capabilities.”
According to the nato.int website, Poland’s 21st Podhale Riflemen Brigade will be the core of the VJTF in 2020, supported by units from the country’s 12th Mechanised Division, the 3rd Transport Aviation Wing, military police, as well as logistics experts and counter-chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialists.
Around 6,000 soldiers will serve on the Spearhead Force in total, including around 3,000 from Poland, the Western military alliance has said.
Units from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Turkey and the United Kingdom will also serve on the force.
The United States stands ready to support the VJTF with airpower and other combat support, according to NATO’s website.
The VJTF is made up of land, air, maritime and special forces, and is part of the alliance’s 40,000-strong NATO Response Force.
NATO member states take turns at the helm of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force every year.
Poland on New Year’s Day replaced Germany, which led the force until December 31, 2019.
According to NATO's Stoltenberg, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force “is available to move immediately to defend any Ally against any threat.”
“At a time of unprecedented security challenges, it is more important than ever,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.
NATO heads of state and government agreed to create the VJTF at the alliance’s Wales summit in 2014 in response to a changed security environment, including Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and turmoil in the Middle East, according to the nato.int website.
Source, PAP, nato.int
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