(Reuters) -Britain said on Tuesday it was committed to leading a NATO task force in 2024, dismissing a report by Berlin-based Table.Media that British delays had prompted the German defence ministry to look into extending its leadership beyond 2023.
“The UK is ready to honour our commitment to lead NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in 2024 – any suggestion otherwise is completely untrue,” a spokesperson for Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.
“NATO is currently reviewing its military plans and force model which may affect their requests to Alliance members,” the spokesperson added.
Citing German army sources, the Table.Media news outlet reported earlier on Tuesday that Britain would take over leadership in 2024 several months later than planned.
“There is nothing official I can tell you about this at the moment,” a German defence ministry spokesperson told Reuters in response.
France handed over command of the VJTF to Germany’s Bundeswehr this week for 12 months. Germany is providing up to 2,700 soldiers as lead nation.
The VJTF was created after Russia unilaterally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and was deployed for the first time for collective defence after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
The leadership position is rotated among members to share the burden that it places on the military, and brigades are bound to the VJTF for three years to help with the stand-up, stand-by and stand-down phases, meaning they are not available for other missions or international obligations.
(Writing by Miranda Murray and Sachin Ravikumar; Additional reporting by Akanksha Khushi; Editing by Nick Macfie and Howard Goller)