Fully deployed by Jul. 2017, NATO's enhanced forward presence comprises four multinational battalion-size battlegroups, provided by framework nations and other contributing Allies on a voluntary, fully sustainable and rotational basis. The battlegroups operate in concert with national home defence forces and are present at all times in the host countries.
The battlegroups are not identical; their make-up is tailored to geographic and host nation requirements. Overall, military effectiveness guides each battlegroup's composition. Today, men and women in uniform from over 20 Allies serve, train and exercise together, representing a strong expression of Alliance unity and solidarity.
Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States are the framework nations for the robust NATO presence in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland respectively.
Albania, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain contribute to the Canadian-led battlegroup in Latvia; Belgium, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway provide contributions to the German-led battlegroup in Lithuania; Denmark, France and Iceland contribute to the UK-led battlegroup in Estonia; and Croatia, Romania and the United Kingdom are part of the US-led battlegroup in Poland.
Soldiers from enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia rucking back to base as the final hurdle to finish a week of Winter Warfare, in Camp Ādaži, on Feb.2, 2018. - Photo by Cpl Jean-Roch Chabot, eFP BG Latvia Public Affairs
The four battlegroups are under NATO command, through the Multinational Corps Northeast Headquarters in Szczecin, Poland. Two division-level headquarters coordinate training and preparation activities of their respective battlegroups. Multinational Division Northeast Headquarters located in Elblag, Poland has been fully operational since Dec. 2018. This headquarters works closely with the battlegroups in Poland and Lithuania. A complementary Multinational Division North Headquarters was activated by NATO in Oct. 2020 and is moving towards full operational capability. Its forward elements are located in Adazi, Latvia, while the rest of the headquarters is located in Karup, Denmark. This headquarters cooperates closely with the battlegroups in Estonia and Latvia.
At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, Allies also agreed to develop a tailored forward presence in the south-eastern part of Alliance territory on land, at sea and in the air. The land element of this presence is built around a multinational brigade headquarters in Craiova, Romania. It provides training opportunities for national contingents from across the Alliance. At sea, NATO has deployed more ships and has conducted more naval exercises in the Black Sea. In the air, Allies have intensified their training, which contributes to improved situational awareness and enhanced readiness.
This means more NATO forces and more exercises and training under Headquarters Multinational Division Southeast (in Romania), which became fully operational in Jun. 2017.
In addition, many activities undertaken by Allies nationally – while not formally part of tailored forward presence – also contribute to increased Allied activity in the region.
Tailored forward presence contributes to the Alliance's strengthened deterrence and defence posture, and to Allies' situational awareness, interoperability and responsiveness. All of these measures contribute to a peacetime demonstration of NATO's intent to operate and train together in the Black Sea region without constraint.
In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the extraordinary NATO Summit in Brussels on Mar. 24, 2022, Allied Heads of State and Government agreed to establish four more multinational battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
At all times, NATO deployments are transparent and in line with its international commitments and obligations.
In response to Russia's actions in the Black Sea region in Nov. 2018, NATO decided to increase its presence in the region to further improve situational awareness. Allies have also stepped up their support for Georgia and Ukraine with more training and exercises for maritime forces and coast guards, as well as port visits.
NATO's rapid reinforcement strategy also ensures that forward presence forces will be reinforced by NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), the broader NATO Response Force, Allies' additional high readiness forces and NATO's heavier follow-on forces, if necessary.