David Cameron has committed 1,000 troops to a multinational “rapid” response force in the face of “new and evolving dangers”.
Speaking at the second day of the Nato summit in the Welsh city of Newport, the Prime Minister warned about “an arc of instability [that] bends from North Africa to the Middle East”, while Russia was “ripping up the rulebook” in Ukraine.
To ensure the safety of Nato citizens he said it must “evolve and refocus” capabiliites in three ways: acting more swiftly, increasing defence capacity and training forces in Jordan, Georgia and eventually Iraq, to ensure a broader geographic spread of skills to deal with threats.
I hope we can agree a multi-national spearhead force deployable anywhere in the world in just two-to-five days. This would be part of a reformed Nato Response Force with headquarters in Poland... If we can agree this, the UK will contribute 3,500 personnel to this multi-national force. And we must scale up our readiness to respond to any threat they face.
UPDATE: The government later clarified that this 3,500 figure actually refers to the number of troops being sent to Eastern Europe by the end of 2015 "to ensure a persistent presence on our Eastern flank", with 1,000 being dedicated to the rapid response force.
He then reaffirmed the UK's spend on defence at 2 per cent of GDP, of which a fifth will be spent on equipment, adding:
This would send a strong message to those who threaten us, that our collective resolve is as strong as ever... What matters most of all is what are we able to do, what are we able to deploy, what enables us to respond rapidly and together collectively to the threats we face? Those are the questions we must answer with our increases in capability.
These can be the first steps in a long-term commitment to help our friends and allies around the world. This commitment is vital for our own security. By standing up for our values around the world we keep our own people safe.