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NATO’S RAPID REACTION FORCE – Sharpening the new “Spearhead”

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NATO’s new spearhead rapid response force is just one component of a fundamental change in the alliance’s posture following Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO said on 6 May.

Douglas E. Lute was talking at a Friends of Europe Policy Insight on the new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). NATO leaders approved this force at last year’s summit in Wales as part of a broader Readiness Action Plan (RAP) to enable the Alliance to respond better to new security challenges.

“RAP is all about immediate response to this new security challenge, but also the long-term adaptations,” Lute said. During the Cold War, he said, NATO had a clear force structure to deal with a single enemy. But this changed after the fall of Berlin wall, as troop numbers in Europe were reduced, and attention turned to challenges outside the NATO area. “Now, with this new reality, where we have challenges immediately on our doorstep, we’ve got to change again,” he said.

To make effective use of faster military response, allies’ governments will also need to react faster, said Marjanne de Kwaasteniet, Dutch Ambassador to NATO. “We have to improve our responsiveness at a political level,” she said. “We need to shorten the decision-making processes in situations in which decisions must be made under high pressure with too little information.”

By invading Crimea, Russia has in fact helped NATO, said Karl-Heinz Kamp, Academic Director of the Federal Academy for Security Policy in Germany. “The cutting trend in NATO is being reversed,” he said. “Even Germany is now increasing its defence budget – you might say not enough, but still you can say it’s a significant shift. Russia helps with its aggressive signals.”

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Further reading:

From Slogan to Reality: Implementing a true response force?
Europe’s world article by Guillaume Lasconjarias

The sharpening of NATO’s ‘Spearhead’
Europe’s world article by Karl-Heinz Kamp

NATO’s Response Force reloaded: How much support, to counter which threats?
Europe’s world article by Jens Ringsmose

Programme

17.30 – 18.00 Welcome and registration of participants

18.00 – 19.00 Policy Insight

Moderated by Giles Merritt / Secretary General at Friends of Europe

19.00 – 19.30 Cocktail

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