France will command NATO’s quick reaction force in 2022 as Russian troops continue massing along its border with Ukraine, prompting fears of another invasion of its neighbor.
For one year, France will be in charge of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, created in 2014 in response to growing crises in the Middle East along with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. NATO officials said troops in the task force are ready to deploy “within days.”
The VJTF is considered the highest-readiness element of the alliance’s 40,000-strong NATO Response Force. The leadership rotates annually among NATO allies. Turkey was in command in 2021 and Germany will lead next year.
In a statement last month announcing France’s year-long rotating command of the force, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was “a substantial contribution to our collective defense.”
“France’s leadership is a strong display of commitment and capabilities,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “There must be no misunderstanding about NATO’s resolve — we stand together to defend and protect all allies.”
The core of the VJTF will come from the 3,500 troops of NATO’s Franco-German brigade, a bi-national unit led by France’s Rapid Reaction Corps based in Lille. Other NATO countries, including Spain, Portugal and Poland, also will provide troops to the force, NATO officials said.
NATO’s Joint Force Command in Brunssum, the Netherlands, holds the command for the entire NATO Response Force. The Pentagon has ordered 8,500 mostly Army and Air Force troops to standby for a possible deployment to Europe as the U.S. contingent of the response force.
German Gen. Jorg Vollmer assumed command of Joint Force Command-Brunssum in April 2022. He reports directly to U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander-Europe.