Latvia to be part of Rapid Reaction Force

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Latvia will be one of seven countries contributing troops to a new Rapid Reaction Force set up within NATO, foreign media have reported.

Latvia will be joined by Baltic neighbors Estonia and Lithuania plus Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, the Financial Times said September 29.

The new force would be under British general command and could number up to 10,000 troops on a state of high alert for rapid deployment to trouble-spots where military force or humanitarian assistance are urgently required. 

German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine said on September 31 the force could be deployed at five new bases, including one in each of the Baltic states and would include air, sea and land capability.

The formal agreement to muster the new force will be signed later this week at the crucial NATO summit being held in the UK September 5 and 6.

Speaking on LTV's Rita Panorama news show Monday, head of the Latvian armed forces Raimonds Graube did not comment on the reports directly but said a rapid reaction to potential threats was "important."

"One of this summit's main questions will be how we respond to the new security environment... I very much hope the result will be positive."

Graube also said that calls for new NATO bases were a simplification of the situation and that the important thing is to improve and upgrade existing military infrastructure.

"We need to get away from political rhetoric and concentrate on practical measures," Graube said.

"NATO bases already exist here, and we have foreign troops undergoing training at them right now... the strength of the Baltic Air Policing mission has been tripled - that is one practical answer to the security situation around Latvia." 

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