The presidents of Poland and of Germany on Monday visited NATO's easternmost command center, which is being upgraded for quick reaction in the event of a threat to the alliance's eastern flank.
Andrzej Duda and Joachim Gauck stressed the important role that the headquarters of NATO's Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin plays at a time of concern for Europe's security.
They met with the center's commanders and troops and visited military barracks that house troops from the U.S. and 24 other nations, including non-NATO countries Finland and Sweden. Formed in 1999, the corps plays a deterrent role but can potentially command defensive action.
"This multi-national corps plays an important role in assuring security at a time when politicians and societies alike have concerns as to security in Europe," Gauck said.
Following Russia's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, a NATO summit that year decided to raise the corps' readiness to high and to increase its force to 400 troops as a deterrent. The corps' area of responsibility covers Poland, the Baltic states, Slovakia and Hungary.