NATO leaders heading to Wales this week will discuss how to best enhance the NATO Response Force — a multinational force, which brings together land, air, maritime and special operation forces — amid Russia’s growing intervention in the east and southeast regions of Ukraine.
While reports have surfaced that some 4,000 troops capable of moving in 48-hours notice will encompass the NRF’s rapid-reaction force, the numbers have yet to be set in stone, Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander, U.S. European Command, and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, told Air Force Times Tuesday.
“I would be the source of those numbers, and none of those numbers have come out of my mouth,” Breedlove said. “Certainly, I have proposed some ideas and I think it’s way too early to talk about those, because what we need to do is have our heads of state look at this idea, because what we need to do is make sure that this is both affordable and it’s sustainable, and so as our heads of state consider my recommendations and make some decisions, then it would be appropriate to talk about those numbers.”
But the goal of the summit remains steadfast to ensure allies of NATO’s readiness — in a pre-summit press conference Monday, NATO Secretary Gen. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that “while the security landscape can change rapidly,” leaders from the 28 NATO countries will work together in the new readiness action plan to enhance the coalition of the NATO Response Force, which will require a force that “can travel light, but strike hard if needed.”
“We will develop what I would call a spearhead within our Response Force — a very high readiness force able to deploy at very short notice. This spearhead would be provided by Allies in rotation, and could include several thousand troops, ready to respond where needed with air, sea and Special Forces support,” Rasmussen said.
The NATO Response Force initiative was announced at the Prague Summit in November 2002 and became mission capable in 2004.
For an inside look at NATO’s mission from Gen. Breedlove, pick up an issue of Air Force Times Sept. 22.