The NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) was officially opened in Latvia on Monday with defence officials voicing solidarity with France during the ceremony which began with a moment of silence for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in France.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Minister of Defence Raimonds Bergmanis; Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Raimonds Graube; General Adrian Bradshaw, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Deputy SACEUR); General Hans Lothar Domrose, Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum; Lieutenant General Manfred Hoffmann, Commander of the Multinational Corps Northeast; Colonel Eriks Naglis, Commander of NFIU in Latvia, and other invited guests.
Bergmanis said official opening of the NFIU which was established in Latvia on September 1 was a historical moment. He said presence of the NFIU in Latvia was of utmost importance at the time the world had witnessed barbaric terrorist attacks on Paris which was an open declaration of war.
The Chief of Defence stressed that opening of the NFIU carried a very significant message – no NATO member is on its own. „This unit stands for NATO response to modern challenges,” Lieutenant General Graube said.
General Bradshaw strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris and stated that NATO was prepared to provide any kind of assistance to France against the Islamic State.
The NATO defence ministers at the meeting in Brussels in February this year approved establishment of the first multinational command and control elements -- NATO Force Integration Units or NFIUs -- in six European countries, including Latvia. On September 1, NFIUs were given a status of military headquarters. Thus, for the first time in history a permanent NATO unit is established in Latvia. The main task of the unit will be to promote rapid and coordinated deployment of Allied forces to the Eastern part of the Alliance if necessary. It will also support collective defence planning and help coordinate training and exercises.