Berlin/Brussels (dpa) - The Bundeswehr took over the running of the super-fast reaction force of NATO on Tuesday.
According to the Ministry of Defence in Berlin, the land forces of the so-called spearhead of the military alliance for 2019 consist of about 8,000 soldiers.
The German army is providing around 4,000 of them, in addition to about 1,000 personnel in other organizational areas. Other soldiers are being provided by allies France, the Netherlands and Norway.
NATO's spearhead, officially called the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), was set up in the wake of the Ukraine crisis and has since become an element of the deterrent strategy against Russia.
The task force's special feature is its high degree of readiness. For example, the advance forces must be deployable within a maximum of 72 hours, whereas for others it is five to seven days.
For the soldiers this means they cannot move far from the location of their duties during standby periods.
The German lead brigade in the VJTF is formed by the 9th Armoured Demonstration Brigade from the city of Munster in the northern state of Lower Saxony, which had to demonstrate its abilities during the Trident Juncture NATO exercises in Norway in the autumn.
In order to spread the burden of readiness, the soldiers in the VJTF come each year from different nations. Italy contributed most of the energy in 2018, and in 2020 it is Poland's turn. In 2015, Germany was instrumental in setting up the VJTF.