Army personnel to Romania for NATO
The Netherlands will contribute approximately 200 military personnel to a NATO battle group in Romania. The expectation is that the Dutch unit will be stationed at a military base in Cincu, which is in the middle of the country. In principle, the unit will be part of NATO’s forward presence for a period of 12 months.
This company-size airmobile unit will be part of a French-led battle group of approximately 900 military personnel. A separate engineering team of around 85 military personnel may travel to Romania as early as next month. Although the engineers are not part of the battle group, they will help in preparing the location, a process that is expected to take around six months depending on French planning and the possible need for engineering capacity.
NATO reinforcement of eastern flank
The unit’s presence in Romania and the exercises that the troops will conduct there will contribute to NATO’s deterrence. The troops will be able to move quickly to protect the NATO treaty area if necessary. The deployment will also reassure NATO Allies in the region. Because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its consequences for the security situation in Europe, NATO is reviewing its collective defence function and reinforcing its eastern flank. At the beginning of April, the Allies therefore agreed to the stationing of battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
Under SACEUR command
The battle group in Romania will also be under the command of the SACEUR. In terms of control, the situation will be similar to that of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Lithuania. This means that SACEUR will decide on the movement and deployment of the battle group’s units without permission being required from the contributing countries. In the performance of duties, SACEUR will act within the frameworks set by the NATO Allies.
Dutch military personnel have carried out a reconnaissance mission to ascertain, among other things, local conditions, the agreements that will apply and the division of duties between France, Romania and the Netherlands. A second reconnaissance mission will be carried out next month to finalise the details.
Dutch contributions in Eastern Europe
The Netherlands has substantially increased its military presence for NATO in Eastern Europe. Immediately after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, F-35s and F-16s of the Royal Netherlands Air Force started flying from the Netherlands to perform air policing duties over the treaty area’s eastern flank. Four F-35s are now stationed in Bulgaria, where they will guard the country’s airspace until the end of May. At sea, the Netherlands is in command of a NATO standing response force to which the Royal Netherlands Navy is contributing a frigate. The Royal Netherlands Navy is also contributing a minehunter to another NATO fleet. Furthermore, the Royal Netherlands Army recently deployed Patriot air defence systems to Slovakia. The army has been participating in NATO’s eFP in Lithuania for over 5 years and will also be part of the eFP in Romania from this summer.