NATO ‘Spearhead’ Force deploys for first time, Exercise Noble Jump underway
MONS, Belgium – NATO’s new high readiness ‘spearhead’ force is being deployed for the first time, as Exercise NOBLE JUMP gets underway in Zagan, Poland. Units assigned to the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) were given orders to deploy on Tuesday afternoon (9 June 2015), and will exercise until 19 June. Over 2,100 troops from nine NATO nations are participating in the exercise, which continues the process of testing and refining the force.
Among the units rapidly deploying to the manoeuvres in Western Poland are Czech and Dutch air mobile troops, German and Norwegian mechanized infantry, Polish and Lithuanian special forces, Belgian artillery, U.S. helicopters and a Hungarian civil military cooperation unit.
“Enhancing our response forces is a key part of NATO’s overall effort to adapt to emerging security challenges,” said General Phillip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). “Exercise NOBLE JUMP has been designed to test NATO’s high readiness troops under battlefield conditions and to ensure that our concepts and procedures will work in the event of a real crisis. I hope that day never comes, but our job is to always be prepared to defend the people, territory, and values of this Alliance,” he said.
The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force is being established as a part of an overall enhancement to the NATO Response Force in order to address new security challenges on NATO’s southern and eastern peripheries. Exercise NOBLE JUMP represents the first time that high-readiness units will deploy and conduct tactical maneuvers under the new VJTF framework. As such, this event represents a learning process that will allow NATO military staff to identify both successes and shortfalls during the early stages of the development process. Increasingly complex exercises, trials, and evaluations will be conducted throughout 2015 and 2016 in order to develop, refine and implement the VJTF concept.
“High-readiness units from across the Alliance are now recalling military personnel to bases, conducting rapid movement planning, and verifying personnel, equipment, and vehicles,” said Lieutenant-General Volker Halbauer, Commander of 1 German-Netherlands Corps and the Interim VJTF. “I expect that lead elements will begin moving in approximately 24 hours, with the bulk of the force deploying to Poland by the weekend,” he added.
Allied military staff are also testing the concepts behind the six NATO Force Integration Units which are currently being established in the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. These command and control units are not yet operational, but an exercise element is role-playing their functions in order to further develop procedures and refine the conceptual work that has been done to date.
The training taking place in Poland is one of a wider series of training events occurring in June 2015 referred to as the Allied Shield series of exercises. The Allied Shield series includes Exercise NOBLE JUMP, the first training deployment of Allied high-readiness units under the new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) framework. It also includes BALTOPS, a major Allied naval exercise in Poland; SABER STRIKE, a significant land exercise in the Baltic States; and TRIDENT JOUST, a NRF command and control exercise in Romania. In total, approximately 15,000 troops from 19 different Allies and 3 partner nations will participate in this series of training events taking place across the Alliance in June 2015. All of these exercises are defensive and are a part of NATO’s assurance measures in response to challenges on NATO’s southern and eastern periphery. The activity will focus on enhancing interoperability, readiness and responsiveness among Allied and partner nations. Allied Shield demonstrates that NATO members are united in their commitment to collective defence.