Thursday, June 25, 2015

Defense Secretary Ash Carter: U.S. Will Provide Air/Sea Based Weaponry and Forces for NATO Rapid-Response Force

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and German minster 
of defense Ursula von der Leyen visit troops of the German
-Dutch Brigade in Münster, Germany, on Monday.
 Photo: Martin Meissner/AP
The Pentagon is committing new military capabilities to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization task force that would stand up to Russian aggression, including surveillance functions, special-operations forces, artillery and air- and sea-based weaponry.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said here Monday that the U.S. will provide the new military gear as part of a NATO initiative known as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VJTF, that would ultimately be capable of responding to a security crisis in a matter of days.
“At a time when some seek to divide us and take us backward, we are moving forward together, with new capabilities, like the VJTF, and a new playbook to confront challenges in the South, from the East, and around the world,” Mr. Carter said, referring not only to Russia, but to the rise of Islamic militants beyond Europe.
Mr. Carter is on a three-stop swing through Europe that aims to calm regional fears of Russian aggressiveness and announce a series of moves to strengthen NATO’s posture.
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, likely to include drones, and command-and-control capabilities, special-operations forces and logistical expertise are included in the package Mr. Carter pledged here Monday. The assets also include aircraft and precision joint-fire capabilities.
The pledge includes a limited number of U.S. personnel, some of whom could be reassigned from within existing forces based in Europe, but U.S. officials here said they were still determining how many more American forces would be used to support the U.S. contribution to the international task force.
Elements of the fledgling task force completed a recent exercise in Poland that brought together Czech, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Lithuanian, Belgian and U.S. forces, as well as others. The force is designed to respond to a crisis in no more than seven days.
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