October 2, 2015 / 2:27 PM / in 2 years

Hungary joins other NATO allies to host command center

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary, along with other states in central and eastern Europe, will host a command center to help coordinate deployment of NATO’s rapid reaction force in an emergency, the government said on Friday.

The U.S.-led military alliance has already activated similar centers in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania.

Hungary said the command center, called a NATO Force Integration Unit, would be staffed by 40 officers from Hungary and other NATO member states, but it would not be a base for forces.

“Its task in peaceful times is to organize and plan international exercises and, in an emergency, the coordination of the NATO Reaction Force,” the government spokesman’s office said in a reply to questions by Reuters.

The role of NATO’s spearhead force, due to be fully operational early next year, is likely to be discussed by alliance defense ministers at a meeting in Brussels on Oct.8.

Some eastern European NATO members, including Poland, want to keep the force’s focus on deterring a possible Russian attack in light of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in March last year.

“We started from the fact that the world is becoming a more and more dangerous place and we may need fast and efficient help from our allies,” the spokesman said.

NATO said on its website that the centers would “help in rapid deployment of Allied forces to the eastern part of the Alliance if necessary.”

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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