Multinational NATO corps set for immediate response, duty more than words - commander

The Szczecin, northwest Poland-based NATO Multinational Corps North-East is ready to react immediately if necessary, duty means more than just words for NATO, the unit's commander General Manfred Hofmann said on Thursday.

Hofmann, on Thursday at a conference of NATO commanders deployed on the Alliance's eastern flank, said the Szczecin corps was the biggest NATO command in the Baltic region and responsible for all NATO land operations in this part of Europe, especially NATO's enhanced forward presence in Poland and the Baltic states.

Hofmann added that the NATO presence on the eastern flank confirmed the firmness of transatlantic ties, and assured that if the need occurred, his unit was ready to respond immediately and take command over NATO forces in the region.

"Here in Szczecin we're ready to take command over these forces 24 hours a day, should any hostile activity endanger the safety of the citizens of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia. If there is such a need, we will react immediately, because for NATO duty is more than words. We stand shoulder to shoulder, one for all, all for one," Hofmann said.

Asked about rumours that Russia was planning to increase its military force in the Poland-bordering Kaliningrad Enclave, Hofmann said the situation in the enclave was being monitored, and assured that NATO was prepared to respond to any threats from the area.

The Szczecin conference was attended by all commanders of NATO multinational units in Central-East Europe.

The NATO Multinational Corps North-East was founded in 1999 by Poland, Germany and Denmark. Currently serving in the unit are soldiers from 25 countries, including non-NATO members Finland and Sweden.