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NATO announced the activation of six forward headquarters units across its eastern periphery on Sept. 1, part of its effort to retool the Alliance’s rapid response capabilities and ensure proper support for deployments and exercises. The NATO Force Integration Units (NIFUs) are now operating in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. The headquarters will ensure NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force can rapidly deploy to these regions and prepare for operations in the event of crisis or war, according to officials. Supreme Allied Commander Europe, USAF Gen. Philip Breedlove, praised the six host nations for the quick effort to activate the 40-person NIFUs, which were approved by the Alliance’s defense ministers at their June meeting in Brussels. “While much work remains before these units are fully operational, the progress has been impressive,” Breedlove said, adding the NIFUs will be critical in facilitating rapid deployment of Allied forces, supporting “collective defense planning,” and coordinating training and exercising in their respective countries. The units, part of NATO’s readiness action plan, are forecasted to be fully operational by the time of the Warsaw Summit next summer.