Defence Minister Earl Howe praises UK forces leading a military exercise in Sennelager, Germany…

Defence Minister Earl Howe has visited UK forces leading a military exercise in Sennelager, Germany alongside troops from Denmark, Germany, Spain and other NATO allies.

Bringing together 3000 troops from 14 NATO nations, this is the first major exercise before the UK takes the lead in a NATO multinational force in 2017. The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (Land), VJTF (L), will be ready to be deployed in days to protect NATO allies from potential threats and acts of aggression.

The exercise, designed to improve how the different nations operate together, began on 5th September and has seen soldiers from 26th Regiment Royal Artillery using the Spanish 105mm Light Gun and the 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment carry out urban patrol training with Polish and Estonian forces.

The UK has committed a thousand troops a year until 2020 to the taskforce – rising to 3,000 when we lead the force next year.

Defence Minister Earl Howe said: "The UK is one of the leading members of NATO, standing ready to defend partners in Eastern Europe against any threat. By participating in exercises such as these, we are sending a clear message that we are committed to European security. Today, I have seen first-hand the contribution British forces are making to reassurance our NATO allies that we are ready to protect them at a moment’s notice."

The UK’s participation in VJTF is just one part of the leading role Britain is playing in NATO. Through our pledge to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence, the UK has committed to deploy over 500 personnel to Estonia and up to 150 personnel to Poland and train thousands of Ukrainian soldiers by the end of March 2017, reassuring our allies in the east.