NATO Response Force: Home


When searching for information on this topic, potentially useful keywords to use include :

  • Connected Forces Initiative (CFI)
  • Interoperability
  • Military Readiness
  • Military Training, Exercises and Simulations
  • Military Transformation
  • Multinational Armed Forces
  • Special Forces
  • Special Operations


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    The NATO Response Force is the spearhead of this Alliance: a rapid-reaction group able to defend any Ally, deploy anywhere, and deal with any threat. Exercise Steadfast Jazz will make sure that the spearhead is sharp, and ready to use.NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (14 Oct 2013).

    This LibGuide is intended to provide a few starting points to assist you with your research on issues related to NATO Response Force.

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    The NATO Response Force initiative was announced at the Prague Summit in November 2002.

    The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and special forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly wherever needed. The NRF will become more important post-2014, after the NATO-led International Assistance Force (ISAF) has completed its mission. It will provide a vehicle to demonstrate operational readiness and as well as a “testbed” for Alliance Transformation.

    On 21 February 2013, Defence Ministers agreed that the NATO Response Force will be at the core of the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) which aims at maintaining NATO’s readiness and combat-effectiveness through expanded education and training, increased exercises and a better use of technology. According to NATO's Secretary General,  Anders Fogh Rasmussen, The NATO Response Force is "an immediate resource, but also an investment in the future" (Source: NATO Defence Ministers agree to expand exercises and mulitnational cooperation).

    As part of the initiative, Ministers agreed that the Alliance should hold a major live exercise in 2015 that will include the NRF and draw up a comprehensive programme of training and exercises for the period 2015-2020.

    The NRF is comprised of three parts: a command and control element from the NATO Command Structure; the Immediate Response Force, a joint force of about 13,000 high-readiness troops provided by Allies; and a Response Forces Pool, which can supplement the Immediate Response Force when necessary.

    In comments made by Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe and Commander of U.S. European Command, on 2 August 2013 (Source:"Meeting Future Air Threats", Supreme Allied Commander Blog, ACO Website):

    "My aim is to make sure that our NRF deployable headquarters and troops are ready to deal with any situation in any environment. The NRF and associated training is essential in maintaining and enhancing the ability of forces from across the alliance to work together." That, Breedlove emphasized, "will be increasingly important as our mission in Afghanistan winds down and we prepare to meet future challenges."

    Four training events scheduled through the end of 2013 "that will enhance and certify the capabilities of NATO’s Response Force" (Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove):

    • Exercise Brilliant Arrow (25 August - 5 September, in Norway)
    • Exercise Brilliant Mariner (25 September - 6 October, a maritime exercise staged in the Baltic Sea)
    • Exercise Brilliant Sword (October, in Italy)
    • Exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 (from 2-9 November, in Latvia and Poland). "Several alliance nations, including the Baltic states and Poland, will participate in Exercise Steadfast Jazz. That exercise will bring together air, land, maritime and Special Forces components, as well as the headquarters staff from Joint Force Command Brunssum, which will lead NATO joint operations next year." (Source: "Exercises, Training to Posture NATO for Future Challenges", US Department of Defense, 5 August 2013).   
    • Exercise Arccade Fusion (16-29 November)
    • List of Participants

    On 15 April 2014, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the Ukraine crisis has amplified the need to strenghten cooperation between NATO, the European Union and otehr partners: "We need to train and exercise more together -- for instance, the NATO Response Force and the EU Battle groups -- so that we stand ready for whatever the future may bring."

    On 5 February 2015 (just before NATO Defense Ministers meeting), Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is about to suggest to the Defense Ministers: "We will strengthen our existing NATO Response Force.[...]. The current size is around 13,000. I expect that they will decide on a force which will be around 30,000 and part of that enhanced NATO Response Force, I expect will be the establishment of this Spearhead Force, which I expect will be of a size of around 5,000. And this Spearhead Force will have some lead elements which will be able to deploy within a very very short notice. We  speak about a few days. [...] But this is going to be decided later on today and its too early to tell the final conclusions." (NATO Source)