Agreement signed on new rapid reaction force

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Latvia was in line to become one of seven founding members of a new NATO-backed rapid reaction force for northern Europe Thursday when Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis signed up for the creation of the new body.

Dubbed the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), the rapid reaction unit will consist of Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Lithuania and Latvia as well as the United Kingdom, which will be in overall command.

In a statement the Latvian Defense Ministry said that signing the letter of intent on creation of the JEF represented "an investment in in-depth Allied cooperation and response capacity building, providing enhanced armed forces training,  and improved inter-operability." 

"This will be a new challenge for the National Armed Forces and Home Guard units to improve their combat capabilities and ensure their further development. Without doubt [JEF] will provide new opportunities to improve regular soldiers' and the Home Guard's ability to respond to crises, to participate in international military exercises and develop practical partnership," Vejonis said at the signing ceremony which took place during the NATO summit being held in Wales.

However, the letter of intent is only the first step in the formal creation of the new body. The next step will be drafting and signing a Memorandum of Understanding and other legal documents initiatives drafting.

The purpose of the JEF is given as "to create a force that would react rapidly to any crisis, including on the orders from NATO, the EU and the United Nations."

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