October 1997

Chapter 3: Logistic Support of the Alliance's
New Strategy

New Force Structures

303. In the context of lower-order, less predictable, and more diverse potential security risks, NATO has planned for substantial reductions in active force levels, whilst aiming for greater mobility, flexibility and versatility in the military resources available to support Alliance interests. The restructuring of NATO's military potential into Reaction, Main Defence and Augmentation Forces marks a shift away from largely in-place, high readiness defence arrangements, to a structure in which the majority of forces will be kept at lower readiness, frequently at only partial peacetime manning levels, or at mobilization status.

Reaction Forces

304. Reaction Forces, consisting of ground, air and maritime elements at relatively high levels of readiness, form only a small part of NATO's total available military resources. Together with some Main Defence Force (MDF) elements (regional Ready Manoeuvre Forces, established for primary defence at short notice), the Reaction Forces are designed as mobile and flexible crisis management tools, offering a range of military options to NATO's political leadership in times of tension. They include:

  1. Immediate Reaction Forces (IRF): Smaller, more responsive forces (multinational brigade-size formations selected for deployment from available battalion size units - with air and maritime IRF of comparable size).
  2. Rapid Reaction Force (RRF): The multinational ACE Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) which is capable of deploying up to four task-organized multinational and national divisions and brigades (and air and maritime RRF of comparable size).

Main Defence Forces (MDF)

305. The backbone of NATO's military capability will be formed by the MDF, standing in their own right as the primary military contribution to stability and security throughout NATO. For several Allied nations, these represent by far the most important component of regional defence capability, and they are the basis for generating other categories of forces. MDF constitute the major portion of the force structure, they comprise multinational and national formations at varying levels of readiness, including some at high readiness which could be employed for crisis management.

Augmentation Forces

306. European or North American forces, other then main defence or reaction forces, provided as reinforcement to contribute to deterrence, crisis management and defence.

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