The NATO Response Force (NRF) was established in 2002 as a high readiness force
comprising of air, land, maritime and Special Forces units capable of rapid
deployment. The NRF is capable of performing a wide variety of tasks including
the provision of an immediate collective defence response capability (prior to
arrival of other forces), crisis management & peace support operations, and
disaster relief and the protection of critical infrastructure.
Overall command of this force belongs to the Supreme
Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
NATO’s two Joint Force Commands (based in Brunssum, the Netherlands and Naples,
Italy) have operational command of the NRF each year on a rotational basis. Rotating
forces through the NRF requires contributing Allies and partner nations to meet
strict standards and adopt procedures required for defensive and expeditionary
operations. As a result, participation in the NRF is preceded by a six-month
NATO exercise programme in order to integrate and standardize the various
national contingents. Additional training serials are carried out by
contributing nations during the 6-18 month period prior to assuming the role of
an NRF high-readiness unit.
Joint Force Command Brunssum is the lead headquarters
for the NRF in 2018, and is supported by the following command and control
·Land: Italian NATO Rapid Deployable Corps (NRDC);
·Air: German Joint Force Air Component (JFAC);
·Maritime: French Maritime Task Force Command
·Special Operations: Spanish Special Operations
· Joint Logistic Support Group (JLSG) from JFC Brunssum;
Air, land, maritime, special forces, and logistics troops from across the
Alliance have been placed on a high level of readiness and are available to
support NRF 2018 if required. The details of the exact composition, locations
and readiness of these forces is not publically releasable in order to protect
Enhancement of NRF: developing the VJTF concept
At the 2014 Wales Summit, NATO Allies agreed to enhance the
capabilities of the NATO Response Force (NRF) in order to adapt and respond to
emerging security challenges, as well as the risks emanating from the Middle
East and North Africa.
Having carefully considered the options presented
during post-Wales discussions, the decision to incorporate a Very High
Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) within the overall NRF structure was taken,
increasing the size of the NRF to 40,000 and providing NATO with a highly
capable and flexible air, land, maritime and Special Forces package capable of
deploying at short notice when tasked, between two to seven days.
Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF)
VJTF comprises a multinational brigade (approximately 5,000 troops), with up to
five manoeuvre battalions, supported by air, maritime and Special Forces. The
VJTF is fully operational and can be enabled as a rapid reinforcement
capability, in case of a major crisis. If activated, the force will be
available to move immediately, following the first indicators and warnings of
potential threats before a crisis begins, to act as a potential deterrent to
further escalation. The rapid arrival of this capable military unit would send
a very clear message to any potential aggressor: "any attempt to violate
the sovereignty of one NATO nation will result in a decisive military
engagement with all 29 allied nations”.
VJTF is established on a rotational and persistent basis and will not be
permanently based. Contributions to NRF will rotate between different NATO
countries each year, with the need for a number of lead or framework nations to
stand up the force. These framework nations, the core of the new force, are
expected to provide headquarters, combat forces, logistics and enablers.
addition, NATO Allies have a wide range of other forces at their disposal. For
example: Allies often send forces to conduct exercises in various locations
across Europe; all Allies have national troops at high states of readiness that
can quickly respond to a crisis.
VJTF’s rapid yet flexible response times are what set it apart from other
components of the NRF; some units will be ready to deploy in just two days,
whilst the majority of units will be ready to move in less than seven days. In
ensuring a high level of readiness the VJTF will be regularly exercised and
deployed at short notice.
Command and Control element: based on a deployable Joint Task Force HQ;
Very High Readiness
Joint Task Force (VJTF): a new component of
the NRF consisting of forces at the highest level of readiness. It is a joint
force, consisting of a land component with appropriate air, maritime and
special operations components, as needed, able to deploy within a few days in
response to any threats or challenges that may arise on NATO’s flanks;
Initial Follow on Forces Group (IFFG): These are
high-readiness forces that can deploy quickly, following the VJTF, in response
to a crisis;
Follow-on Forces Group (FFG): The FFG consists of a broad spectrum of military
capabilities - encompassing command and control, combat, combat support and
combat services support units. FFG forces are nominated by Allied and/or
Partner Nations and drawn from their deployable forces.
NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs)
Rapid deployment of the VJTF, if activated, will be facilitated by small
command and control nodes enabling deployment and sustainment activity called
NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs). Six of eight NFIUs are in JFC Brunssum’s
area of responsibility: Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.
NFIUs are working in conjunction with host nations to identify logistical
networks, transportation nodes and supporting infrastructure in order to ensure
that NATO high-readiness forces (VJTF) can deploy to an assigned region as
quickly as possible, within two and up to seven days.
Each NFIU will provide a vital link between national forces and multinational
NATO forces, and will have a key role in planning, exercising, and assisting
potential reinforcements. In short, the NFIUs will facilitate the rapid
deployment of Allied forces to the region, support collective defence planning
and assist in coordinating training and exercises.