NATO announced Tuesday that it has started testing of its new ‘spearhead force’, known as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).
The VJTF is a brigade that will be able to deploy within 48 hours and will eventually include 5,000 troops. It is part of the NATO Response Forces (NRF), NATO’s high-readiness force comprising land, air, sea and Special Forces units capable of rapid deployment wherever needed.
Both the NRF and its new ‘spearhead force’ aim to strengthen the Alliance’s collective defence capability and ensure that NATO has the right forces in the right place at the right time. They are a key component of what has been called the “Readiness Action Plan” agreed by NATO leaders at the Wales Summit in September 2014.
The VJTF has now reached interim capability and has started to go through a series of exercises, trials and evaluations, which will run throughout 2015. The first of these took place in Germany, 4-5 March, involving the 1st German-Netherlands Corps. The 1st German-Netherlands Corps is the NATO Response Force’s (NRF) standby land headquarters during 2015, so it is also acting as the Interim VJTF.
“Being used as NRF (...) helps us to remain sharp and to set the standard within NATO rather than following it,” The Corps spokesperson, Lt Col Paul Kolken said.
“We pride ourselves specifically for being quickly deployable, for the attitude to try out new concepts and to interact in peacetime and before deployments with the civil partners that we most likely will work with when in a mission area,” Kolken said.
This is the third time that this headquarters is on NRF standby, so it is well-suited for its VJTF duties.
“All that comes on top of our training and exercise schedule,” said German Lt Col Axel Schmettkamp, Director of the Joint Operations Center of the 1st German-Netherlands Corps.
“Quite a burden, but the necessity to do so is visible daily when watching the evening news. Moreover, personally, I think it is pretty exciting to play such an important role in the service of security,” Schmettkamp added.