|Updated: 30-Nov-2006||NATO Update|
NATO Response Force declared fully operational
At the Summit meeting in Riga, 29 November, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced that NATO’s cutting-edge Response Force is at full operational capability.
The NATO Response Force is a highly ready and technologically advanced force made up of land, air, sea and special forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly wherever needed.
It is capable of performing missions worldwide across the whole spectrum of operations.
These include evacuations, disaster management, counterterrorism, and acting as ‘an initial entry force’ for larger, follow-on forces.
It can number up to 25,000 troops and start to deploy after five days’ notice and sustain itself for operations lasting 30 days or longer if resupplied.
“We are there,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters, “A major accomplishment because it gives the Euro-Atlantic community unprecedented capability.”
All capabilities in place
Following commitments by NATO member countries, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe declared on 29 November that all capabilities necessary for the Force to be declared fully operational are now in place.
This includes a brigade-size land component with forced-entry capability; a naval task force including a carrier battle group, an amphibious task group and a surface action group; and an air component capable of 200 combat sorties a day.
A rotational force, the NRF is put together from force elements which Allies volunteer well in advance to meet particular requirements (a framework for Partner involvement in the NRF is being developed).
After preparation at a national level, a six-month NATO training programme starts after which the force is certified to the highest standards. It is then put on “stand-by” for six months. An NRF rotation therefore consists of both the training period and the stand-by period.
Besides being an operational tool, the NRF is also a catalyst for further transformation and can be used as a vehicle for evaluating new concepts and capability improvements.
In this way, the NRF represents both a process for and a product of NATO military transformation.
“Reaching full operational capability is a significant achievement, sustaining it on the long-term requires focus and commitment,” said General Ray Henault, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee.
Agreement on common funding
The Secretary General also announced that Heads of State and Government had agreed to share the costs of airlift for short notice deployments of the Response Force.
Mr. De Hoop Scheffer said he hoped this would be an incentive for countries to commit to future rotations of the Force.