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British military take over command of NATO instant response force
Last Updated: 2017-01-11 22:15 | Xinhua
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British Ministry of Defense (MOD) officials announced Wednesday that British forces have taken command of NATO's Response Force and its flagship Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

Government Defense Minister Earl Howe witnessed the handover of the NATO's VJTF at an official ceremony at the Imjin Military Barracks in Gloucester.

It commits thousands of British troops to be on standby and ready to deploy within days.

The force will comprise of 3,000 British troops standing ready, supported by NATO allies, to respond to any threat to the alliance.

As Britain takes over the command from Spain, the 20th Armoured Brigade will lead the force with the 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, 26 Regiment Royal Artillery, 35 Engineer Regiment and 1 Logistic Support Regiment also contributing troops.

The United States, Denmark, Spain, Norway and Poland will support the British brigade, adding capabilities such as armoured infantry companies, aviation and mechanised infantry, said the MOD in a statement.

To further project Britain's global influence, the Royal Air Force has also taken the lead in the air component of the NATO Response Force.

Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: "With the alliance's second biggest and rising defense budget, Britain is at the heart of NATO. In heading up the VJTF, Britain is taking another leading position in NATO and is sending a clear message that Britain is stepping up to our global defense commitments."

Fallon announced earlier that Britain would commit RAF Typhoon aircraft to the NATO Southern Air Policing mission, offering reassurance to the Black Sea allies. Deployed from RAF Coningsby, the Typhoons will be based at Mihail Kogglniceanu Airbase, Romania for three months in summer 2017.

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