French troops participate in a NATO exercise in Adazi, Latvia, on September 19, 20129. Photo courtesy of NATO
Sept. 20 (UPI) -- NATO announced that its new command, designed to quickly move tanks and personnel around Europe, is operational.
The Joint Support and Enabling Command, located in Ulm, Germany, is a headquarters focused on ensuring that troops and equipment can rapidly move across borders in the event of a crisis.
The NATO capability of troop movement across European borders has long been a problem. NATO and the European Union have discussed modernizing diplomatic clearances for troop movements and studied whether infrastructure, including roads and bridges, can withstand troop and tank movement.
About 160 personnel will staff the command in Ulm, with as many as 600 available if required. The headquarters was formally declared operational on Thursday
NATO has worked to reinforce its eastern flank in the past five years because of concerns over Russian actions in Crimea and Ukraine. It has increased multinational troop exercises and currently bases additional troops in Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, countries on Russia's border.
"The new command in Ulm will help our forces become more mobile and enable rapid reinforcement within the Alliance, ensuring we have the right forces in the right place at the right time" said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
NATO's top officer, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Tod Walters, will head the new command.