The North Atlantic Treaty Organization continues to refine its plan to set-up six new forward staging units in the three Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. The intention is to establish so-called NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) that would operate under the watch of Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin, Poland, one of the many NATO Readiness Forces headquarters. The units are being established in eastern NATO countries and will liaise directly with local militaries and political decision-makers.
There are two main roles for the units. The first is to support continued NATO integration with relatively new members, primarily through military exercises. The second is to facilitate the reception of forces into NATO's forward edge from other alliance members. This could be for training purposes, for the rotation of semi-permanent forces on mission, or during an influx of combat power in the case of security operations on the eastern side of NATO territory. The six earmarked countries could potentially become a front line of defense, requiring a rapid uplift in combat ready or humanitarian materiel, with enduring logistics support.
The new 40-man NFIUs will help NATO achieve its long-standing mission of interoperability between members, though the more immediate driver is Russian activity in Ukraine and the threat felt by Eastern NATO countries. In large part, this initiative — and others that complement it — are being put in place to reassure NATO's weaker and more vulnerable members that the bloc takes its security assurances seriously, while simultaneously giving a slight boost to NATO capabilities in the region.