FOLLOWING the Balkan wars the European Union set about creating a rapid reaction task force which could deploy military specialists to continental hotspots in a matter of hours.
It never really took off and more than a decade later the real iron fist of western military engagement remains with NATO, which is presently adapting its tactical nous away from the staid nuclear stand-off with the Russians.
So it was with great fanfare that the organisation, thought by many observers to have overstepped its reach, announced the creation of a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force which, as the name suggests, can deploy resources anywhere in the world faster than you can say Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
Interestingly, given the recent brouhaha over Russian warships refuelling on its territory, Spain will be leading the taskforce this year with the stealthy Brilat brigade heading military exercises in Poland, and helping prepare the outfit for action should security in North Africa further disintegrate.
“We have reduced deployment times enormously” said General Luis Cebrian, head of the brigade. “At the next summit in Warsaw, heads of state and government will be able to say that we are ready for any threat.”
The specialised Very High Readiness unit comprises roughly 5,000 soldiers, who are part of a larger 40,000 strong force committed to promoting American and western European security objectives.
Until the collapse of the Soviet regime, NATO was exclusively focussed on combating the perceived Warsaw Pact threat but has since controversially expanded its presence further east, inflaming tensions with a resurgent Russia.
Spain joined NATO in 1982 amid vigorous opposition from the left of the political spectrum and has one of the largest armies of the alliances’ 28 member states.