Q: It seems that NATO has abandoned one of its flagship projects, the NRF? Is this the case?
Absolutely not. The concept of a highly ready and technologically advanced force at the Alliance's disposal remains firmly in place. Its training, transformation and expeditionary goals continue to be relevant and applicable. What we are conducting now in NATO are deliberations on the easing of the burden that many Allies suffer as a consequence of significant operational commitments in NATO and other organisations-led operations.
Q: But the bottom line is that NATO can no longer field at short notice 25000-strong multinational force?
Our concept has always envisaged 25000 as the upper limit. The discussions taking place right now in the military fora of the Alliance look into the possible ways in which the same objectives of the NRF could be met through different force planning commitments on the part of Allies. One could imagine for example a kind of a graduated approach, where smaller number of units would need to be reserved for NRF's rotation at highest level of readiness, but with a capacity to reach required levels of commitment if required. To put it simply: our military are now studying options to relieve the strain on combat ready forces that are or will be engaged for ongoing operations. And NRF is a place where this search has to take place as well.
Q: Does it not mean then that the NRF project has failed, less than a year after declaration of FOC?
No, because the goals of the NRF are being met. It remains a credible force. It has already played a big role in modernising NATO's and individual Allies' military capabilities. NRF elements were used in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in Pakistan after the earthquake. Interoperability and transport challenges were shown to be met during a major exercise in Cape Verde. But NATO is a pragmatic organisation - we constantly re-evaluate our concepts and their implementation. There are no taboo subjects or sacred cows. We are re-examining for example our overall planning methods and procedures, discussing financial arrangements, improving training methods, introducing comprehensive approach to operations. It is a sign of strength of the Alliance.
Q: Next steps for the NRF?
Following military advice the political side of NATO will look into the issue, one can expect a thorough debate during the Noordwijk defence ministerial in October.