Chapter I NATO Response Force inside the Alliance The NATO Response Force - Concept The NATO Response Force (NRF) 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. Its role is to act as a stand alone military force available for rapid deployment by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as a collective defense, crisis management or stabilisation force, or to act as an initial entry force for a subsequent primary deployment. The NRF consists of land, air and sea components provided by NATO members. Contributed forces first train together and then become available for a 6-month period before being replaced by the new force. The first elements of the NRF are able to deploy within five days, with the rest of the force capable of operating self-sufficiently for a period of 30 days. Depending on mission requirements, the NRF will operate either as an Initial Entry Force to facilitate the arrival of Follow-on-Forces, or as a Stand-alone Force performing missions on its own. It is capable of performing missions worldwide across the whole spectrum of operations. These include non-combatant evacuation operations, crisis response operations including peace enforcement operations, disaster management operations, counterterrorism operations, embargo operations (maritime and ground embargoes and no-fly zone operations), maritime interdiction and naval mine counter-measures operations, quick response operations to support diplomacy as required and acting as "an initial entry force" for larger, follow-on forces. To fulfill these tasks the NRF consists of a combined and joint force package that will be tailored as required by the needs of specific operations and can move quickly to anywhere as needed. This force package is based on a brigade size land element (including special operations forces), a joint naval task force, and an air element capable of approximately 1000 sorties per day. Accordingly, the NRF command and control structure consists of a Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters (CJTF HQ) with subordinated Land, Air and Maritime Component Commands (LCC/ACC/ MCC). The NRF embodies NATO's ongoing transformation and is vital in meeting the new and elusive threats of the 21st century that are so different from those of the Cold War era. The NATO Response Force - Background In September 2002, the US Secretary for Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, put forward a proposal to create a NATO rapid reaction force. The launching of the NATO Response Force initiative was announced several months later, at the Prague Summit in November 2002, together with the other major military transformation initiatives - the Prague Capabilities Commitment and the fundamental revision of the NATO military command structure. In the words of General James Jones, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, "... NATO will no longer have the large, massed units that were necessary for the Cold War, but will have agile and capable forces at Graduated Readiness levels that will better prepare the Alliance to meet any threat that it is likely to face in this 21st century". The NRF concept was approved by Ministers of Defence in June 2003 in Brussels. The NRF reached its initial operating capability in October of 2003. The first prototype, or rotation, of the force, numbering about 9,500 troops, was inaugurated on 15 October 2003, barely a year after the announcement of its creation. On 13 October 2004, at an informal meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Poiana Brasov, Romania, the NATO Secretary General and Supreme Allied Commader Europe formally announced that NRF had reached its initial operational capability of approximately 17,000 troops and was ready to take on the full range of missions. The capabilities of the Response Force were tested in a major live exercise, Steadfast Jaguar 06, in the Cape Verde Islands in June 2006. The challenging location, far away from the NATO borders, was specifically chosen to demonstrate and prove the viability of the NRF concept. The exercise itself was designed to test and develop NATO's expeditionary capabilities and ensure that NRF concepts are practiced. The accomplished aim of the exercise to test the NRF, combining multinational joint forces of land, maritime and air components, in the first major test for the force, to prepare the NRF for future missions and provide challenging and realistic training opportunities for all participating branches, demonstrate theese. NATO had proven the NRF utility and features that make it a unique force able to react to crisis swiftly and with the flexibly to deploy a wide range of capabilities from humanitarian aid to combat forces depending on the crisis. At NATO's November 2006 Riga Summit, the Force was declared to be at full operational capability with up to 25,000 troops. The NATO Response Force - Features The NRF gives NATO the means to respond swiftly to various types of crises anywhere in the world. It is also a driving engine of NATO's military transformation. This is because the Response Force is based on a system of rotations. NATO member countries commit land, air, naval or special forces units to the NATO Response Force for a six-month period. The standards are very high, and participation in the NRF is preceded by a six-month training programme, which includes testing the units' capabilities in complex exercises. Therefore, as the different forces rotating through the NRF meet these high standards, new concepts, technologies and the transformation of military capabilities spread throughout the forces of all member countries. Operational command of the NRF alternates among NATO's Joint Forces Command Brunssum, Naples, and Joint Headquarters Lisbon. At present, the NRF is in its twelveth rotation, under the command of the Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters Brunssum
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