Combat Brigades instead of Battlegroups

NATO defense ministers decide to deploy combat brigades on the alliance’s eastern flank and to transition Ukraine’s armed forces to NATO-standards.

BRUSSELS/KIEV (Own report) – NATO countries will transition Ukrainian armed forces to NATO-standard and enable them, in the long run, to improve their interoperability with NATO. This was confirmed by NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, following NATO’s defense ministers meeting, yesterday. In addition, the ministers have agreed on a model for an arms buildup on the alliance’s eastern flank. This foresees the deployment of combat brigades, of course, with only half of the soldiers being permanently stationed there, while the others will remain on increased readiness at their home bases. To enable deployment at the front, as quickly as possible, large quantities of heavy weapons will be already stockpiled in eastern and southeastern Europe. New measures were decided for Ukraine’s immediate arms buildup, which already has been provided enough military hardware to equip twelve artillery battalions. The arms deliveries will be practically coordinated from a cell located at the Patch Barracks in Stuttgart-Vaihingen.

Twelve Artillery Battalions

Even before NATO’s defense ministers meeting, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group had met in NATO’s headquarters in Brussels. This is a loose knit group of NATO countries joined by close allies to coordinate and accelerate the delivery of combat equipment to Ukraine. This group held its first meeting on April 26 at the US Ramstein Airbase.[1] As the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, reported on Wednesday, Kiev, has already received enough military hardware to equip twelve artillery battalions. They were provided 237 tanks, 300 infantry fighting vehicles, 1,600 or so air defense systems, and 97,000 anti-tank systems, meaning Ukraine’s military has more of these than there are tanks in the world.[2] Milley also pointed to additional planned arms exports. Germany, for example, plans to provide several multiple-launch rocket systems and guided MLRS munition. Other deliveries are in preparation. The practical coordination of arms deliveries to Ukraine will be carried out by a specially set up cell located in Patch Barracks in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, where the European headquarters of the US military is based. Military personnel from 26 nations, are involved in this coordination, according to the BBC.[3]

According to NATO Standards

Significant is the fact that Ukraine’s arms buildup is not limited to supporting its current war against Russia. This was confirmed, yesterday, by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, following the NATO defense minister’s meeting. He described plans to support the country for the longer term, referring to a “comprehensive assistance package.”[4] According to Stoltenberg, the western countries are seeking to help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era to modern NATO equipment. In particular the aim is to “improve interoperability with NATO,” and the ability to wage war alongside the western military pact. Stoltenberg also announced measures further strengthening Ukraine’s security institutions. Transitioning the Ukrainian armed forces to NATO standards and furnishing that country with the corresponding combat equipment are tantamount to a renunciation of Ukraine’s eventual neutrality, which seriously reduces the bargaining possibilities for peace negotiations. This would correspond to the fact that Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov attended the dinner with his NATO counterparts in Brussels and that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to NATO’s summit in Madrid at the end of June.

From the Baltic to the Black Sea

The defense ministers basically reached an agreement, yesterday, on the model for fortifying NATO’s eastern flank. First of all, the number of NATO’s battlegroups, stationed in eastern and southeastern Europe, should be increased from four to eight. They are based in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and in Bulgaria. Whereas, until now, they were of battalion strength, they will be upgraded to the strength of combat brigades, which corresponds to between 3,000 – 5,000 rather than the current 1,000 troops. However, not all of the soldiers assigned to the respective brigades will be permanently present at their bases in eastern and southeastern Europe – only half of them. The others will be stationed at their respective home bases, on increased readiness status. And to ensure operational capability, weapons and munition will be stockpiled in huge quantities at locations in eastern and southeastern ‘Europe (“prepositioned stock”), to be immediately available for the troops being flown in the case of war. It has been reported that this is the model the Bundeswehr intends to also follow in Lithuania.[5]

Third of a Million Soldiers

According to a report, a comprehensively new defense plan for the entire NATO realm is also planned. In this context, the number of troops that are supposed to be made potentially available and reported to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) will be six-times larger than the current 40,000 – the current size of the NATO Response Force (NRF) – to around 240,000. This pertains only to land-based forces and exclusively those forces from European NATO countries and Canada.[6] In addition, there are the US units; the number of US personnel currently stationed in Europe is reported to be 100,000. The standby time will be shortened considerably – to ten days for the initial units, 30 days for reinforcements and 50 days for follow-on troops.[7] According to reports, these measures will be finalized in about a year.

Global NATO

Lastly, NATO’s defense ministers dealt also yesterday with the new NATO Strategic Concept, which the pact is due to decide at its summit meeting in Madrid at the end of the month. As Secretary General Stoltenberg confirmed yesterday, it will not only set out NATO’s new course on Russia, but also – “for the first time” as Stoltenberg notes –explicitly deal with the joint course against China. Details are not yet known. However, what is already known is that Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will attend that summit. These are the four countries – along with Singapore and Taiwan – that are also participating in the transatlantic anti-Russia campaign. This means that NATO is now also taking form in the Pacific, for the great power struggle against the People's Republic of China – in a variation that has been in discussion for years – a “global NATO.” will soon report.


[1] See also Waffenstellerkonferenz in Ramstein.

[2] More Than 50 Nations Pledge to Help Build Ukraine’s Defense. 15.06.2022.

[3] Jonathan Beale: Inside the room where Ukraine orders arms from the West. 16.06.2022.

[4] Press Conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers. 16.06.2022.

[5] Scholz sagt Litauen Kampfbrigade für Nato-Ostflanke zu. 07.06.2022.

[6], [7] Thomas Gutschker: Verteidigung mit fest zugewiesenen Truppenteilen. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 17.06.2022.