Monday, April 13, 2015

NATO Exercise Tests How Rapid Their Reaction Force Is

Troops must be ready to fly out in 48 hours
When 200 Dutch troops converged on the air force base here this week, it wasn’t a routine case of reporting for duty but a test for a key element of NATO’s response to the renewed Russian threat.
Just after 9 a.m. Thursday, the final 80 troops, who had just traveled 60 miles from their home base, hopped off buses, grabbed their backpacks and duffels from an accompanying green truck, and hurried into the air terminal.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in an exercise playing out in 11 countries, made its first attempt this week to test its revamped rapid-reaction force, the alliance’s highest-profile response to Moscow’s aggressiveness in Ukraine and elsewhere.
The goal was to see if the troops could be ready to board planes 48 hours after receiving an “order to move,” as specified in a new NATO policy. Previously, NATO’s response force aimed to mobilize in five days to two weeks, which NATO leaders agreed last September was too slow for new global threats.
About 1,500 troops took part in the exercise, which lasted from Tuesday through Thursday. In eight countries, mostly headquarters personnel were involved, while in Germany, 900 troops moved to four central garrisons.
Late last year, NATO leaders decided to increase the alliance’s response force from 13,000 to 30,000 troops, with the centerpiece a high-readiness force of 5,000 that could respond to a crisis within 48 hours.
One goal was to reassure NATO’s eastern members, who are the most worried about Russia’s new assertiveness, that the alliance is ready to respond if necessary. The force is designed to arrive early, while a threat is still coalescing, so it can send a message and discourage escalation.
Six European countries have volunteered to rotate leadership of the new response force, with the U.S. providing intelligence and other support. ...
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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