The United Kingdom’s 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team will be deployed in 2024 as the core of the British leadership role in NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force starting Jan. 1.
The brigade, dubbed “Desert Rats,” led NATO’s Strategic Reserve Force when it was activated in Kosovo in 2022. Its components include a light cavalry regiment and four light-mechanized infantry battalions.
Besides British troops, the 2024 VJTF will be composed of military elements from Spain, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Latvia, North Macedonia, Romania and Albania, the U.K. government announced. Some 6,000 troops will man the task force, with the majority coming from the British military, which last led the task force in 2017.
NATO created the VJTF in 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and it was deployed for the first time for the alliance’s collective defense after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.
The task force is the highest-readiness component of the larger NATO Response Force, which also gathers air, maritime and special ops units from alliance members. By mid-2024, the VJTF will transition to the new Allied Reaction Force. The VJTF’s leadership rotates annually, with Germany as spearhead in 2023.