VILNIUS – NATO should move its military comomands closer to the Alliance's Eastern borders, President Dalia Grybauskaite said Thursday after meeting with General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
In the president's words, in light of the changing geopolitical dynamics, NATO is too slow; therefore, changes are needed in reforming and speeding-up decision-making and relocating military commands closer to the eastern borders of the Alliance, the President's Office said in a press release.
According to the communique, Grybauskaite said that the current NATO command structures and military forces were positioned according to the Cold War logic – in Europe's West and South. With growing threat from Russia, it is necessary to redeploy allied forces to the Eastern flank.
The Baltic states also need regional air defense and measures precluding possible military isolation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and ensuring the speedy arrival of Allied reinforcements, she said.
The airspace of the three Baltic states is one of the biggest defense gaps, and arrival of Allied troops in the region may be blocked by the so-called access restriction and regional blocking capacities being developed in the Russian Kaliningrad region.
Grybauskaite also underscored that the deployment of Allied forces in the Baltic states on a permanent basis constituted the most essential element of deterrence. The presence of US troops, the strongest military force within the Alliance, is a powerful message of deterrence.
NATO is currently stationing a battalion of Allied forces in each of the Baltic states and Poland. A company of US troops has been deployed in Lithuania, Poland and Estonia since 2014. A brigade of US troops was stationed in Poland earlier this year.
Scaparrotti also heads US forces in Europe.