A NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) was activated in Bucharest on Thursday at a ceremony attended by Defence Minister Mircea Dusa, General Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Nicolae Ciuca, Romania’s Ambassador to NATO Sorin Ducaru and NATO Director General of the International Military Staff, Lt. Gen Christopher Harper.
The freshly opened command is one of six of its kind established in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, which were simultaneously inaugurated on Thursday and which are intended to strengthen the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance.
The establishment of these headquarters is part of the measures taken by the North Atlantic Alliance in response to the changing security situation in the region, and aims at improving NATO’s capacity to concretely and decisively respond to any hostile action against a member state.
Dusa: NFIU is not a military facility, but serves to strengthen security on the eastern flank
In the speech delivered at the ceremony, Defence Minister Mircea Dusa said that the setting up of this NATO unit has a special significance for Romania and represents “a historic event.”
“This NATO Force Integration Unit is not a military facility, but serves to strengthen security on the eastern flank of the alliance. NATO’s readiness action plan to render capabilities operational was approved in Wales, so as to adequately respond the major changes in the security environment in the immediate vicinity of the Alliance borders. As part of these measures, the decision was reached to establish six command units(…), each staffed with approximately 40 experts from allied countries and the host state. These units will become fully operational 2016,” said Mircea Dusa, according to Agerpres.
The defence minister said that some 27 national and 15 international posts are currently available for the unit in Bucharest, staffed with specialists from Albania, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, the US, Turkey, Spain, the UK, Greece and Portugal.
Dusa mentioned that the unit is being financed from NATO funds, as well as by the Ministry of National Defence.
Investment in equipping and modernizing the unit amounts to 16 million euros, of which 13 million come from NATO and 3 million from the Ministry of Defence.
NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Sorin Ducaru (former Romanian Ambassador to NATO) underscored that these units are not military bases, but “elements of support for continuing military training and exercises.”
“It is important that these regional command units were decided upon by the heads of state of the allied countries at the last NATO summit in Wales. They won’t be military bases, but command units, as they are key action vectors to increase NATO’s international capacity. These units will facilitate the active unfolding of allied forces in the region, whenever necessary, support collective defence planning and be an element of support for the continuation of military training and exercises,” Ducaru told the ceremony.
He also praised the opening of NATO’s Multinational Division Southeast, on August 31, stressing that these North Atlantic Alliance measures occur in a difficult geostrategic context of Russian military action.
“We are talking about a changed security environment at the Alliance’s borders,” said Ducaru.
Director General of the NATO International Military Staff, Lt. Gen. Christopher Harper also emphasised that the unit freshly opened in Bucharest is not a military presence, but it is intended to provide collective defence.
NATO’s Strategic Concept adopted in Lisbon in 2010 has given us a vision of a peaceful Euro-Atlantic area. Unfortunately, there are clear, obvious and active challenges to the peace and security we imagined. (.. .) NATO evolves, but it is undeniable that the purpose of the Alliance has not changed, said Lt. Gen. Christopher Harper, pointing out that this new command is a clear demonstration that allied forces remain just as strong as ever.
President Iohannis: Activation of NATO unit reflects NATO support for Romania’s security
President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday sent a message on the activation of a NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Bucharest, in which he voices support for the establishment of the unit, which he says is the expression of NATO’s support for Romania’s security.
“The activation of the NATO force integration unit on Romania’s soil and of similar structures in other NATO member states on the eastern flank marks the finalization of a process that started with a NATO summit in September 2014 in Wales to strengthen the security of the allied member states on the eastern flank of NATO,” the Presidential Administration quotes Iohannis as saying in a press statement.
He thanks NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for supporting the process, including for his July 2 visit to Romania, as well as the Defence Ministry for the successful completion of all the necessary procedures for the commissioning of the NATO unit.
“The establishment of these command units reflect the Alliance’s determination and capacity to strengthen the defence of the member states against increased challenges and instability coming from the eastern neighbourhood. By the military staff selected from various member states to work at the unit, the new command unit is truly a multinational team that reflects NATO’s solidarity with and support for Romania’s security. I want to thank all the allies that have appointed officers to work at the unit, and I hope they will enjoy Romania’s hospitality and their presence will be a good opportunity for the Alliance to get to know and deepen knowledge of the realities in the current security context,” says Iohannis.
The head of state also wishes the Romanian troops and the entire staff of the new NATO command unit good luck with fulfilling their duties to become “a bridge between the NATO and Romanian forces, between the national systems of security and defence and that of NATO of which Romania is a member.”