One of the biggest criticisms of NATO's response to Russian actions has been its lack of speed and flexibility."
Brussels, Sep 2 - NATO is going to create a 4,000-strong spearhead high-readiness force for deploying rapidly in eastern Europe and the Baltic states if required to help protect member nations against potential Russian aggression, NATO officials have revealed.
The spearhead force will have a capacity to travel light but strike hard.
Leaders from the 28 NATO countries are expected to approve the plan at the alliance's summit in Wales when the Ukraine crisis tops the agenda Friday, according to the Guardian newspaper.
The force, drawn on rotational basis from NATO allies, could be in action at very, very short notice, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
He described it as a mixture of regular troops and special forces that could travel light but strike hard. It would be supported by air and naval forces as needed.
Though the NATO chief did not reveal how many troops would be engaged, NATO officials said it would number around 4,000 and would be expected to deploy to any alliance member country within 48 hours.
It is so that we are ready should something nasty happen, a senior NATO official said.
One of the biggest criticisms of NATO's response to Russian actions has been its lack of speed and flexibility.
NATO has struggled to find a response to Russia since the Ukraine crisis began in February, beyond increased military exercises in the Baltic states -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I.