- 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)
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)
The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) concept - this Spearhead Force - will be tested and refined during 2015. "A series of exercises, trials, and evaluations will be conducted throughout 2015 in order to develop, refine and implement this concept [...] With the introduction of the VJTF concept, the NRF will have a new structure". (Source: NATO ACO: NRF/VJTF Fact Sheet, 9 March 2015)
In order to train and test the NATO Response Force, Exercise Trident Juncture 2015 (TRJE15) will take place from 28 September to 06 November 2015 in multiple locations across the Alliance including Italy, Portugal and Spain. Over 25,000 troops are expected to participate in the exercise. (Source: NATO Allied joint Force Command Brunssum - Trident Juncture 2015)
"The ongoing recasting of NATO’s Rapid Response Force and the creation of a brigade-size force able to deploy in 48 hours (the “spearhead” or “very high readiness joint task force” – VJTF) raises a question of primary importance, namely that of what authority should decide deployment.": this point was discussed by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on 18 May 2015 at Budapest (Online source available to NATO staff only; 'NATO/ASSEMBLY: Members of Parliament tackle question of authority relevant for authorising deployment of “Spearhead” NRF' in "Europe Diplomacy & Defence", no. 796 dated 18 May 2015)
In May 2015, NATO Chiefs of Defense discussed the way ahead with the Readiness Action Plan and stated that the VJTF would become fully operational in 2016”.
On 17 June 2015, Allied troops in action tested the capabilities of NATO’s new very high readiness Spearhead Force during "Noble Jump," its first deployment exercise.
During the 24-25 June 2015 at NATO HQ, halfway between the NATO Summits in Wales in 2014 and Warsaw in 2016, the Allied Defence Ministers met to review the implementation of key decisions taken in Wales and noted the significant progress they have achieved, in particular in implementing the Readiness Action Plan. They also decided to bolster the NATO Response Force and reinforce collective defence.
On 3 September 2015, as part of the NATO Readiness Action Plan, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg inaugurated a NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Vilnius, Lithuania, calling the opening “a big step forward towards greater solidarity, greater strength, and greater readiness.” The Lithuanian NFIU is one of six small new headquarters activated this month in Lithuania, as well as in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania. (NATO Source)
During the Foreign Ministers meeting at NATO HQ on 8 October 2015, the "Ministers reviewed the implementation of the Alliance’s Readiness Action Plan" and "[...] gave their green light to the completed military concept for the Enhanced NATO Response Force, including its command and control arrangements. “We now have everything in place to make the Response Force stronger, faster and more capable,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. The Ministers also agreed to set up two more NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs) or small headquarters in Hungary and Slovakia. Six other NFIUs were activated in September in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. The Secretary General also welcomed the announcement by Germany to lead the Alliance’s very high readiness Spearhead Force in 2019 and plans by the United Kingdom to rotate more troops into the Baltics and Poland for training and exercises." (NATO News, 8 Oct 2015)
On 19 October 2015, NATO Allies and partner nations kicked off the Alliance’s Trident Juncture live military exercise during an opening ceremony at the Trapani air force base in Italy, launching three weeks of intensive training involving 36,000 troops from more than 30 nations across Italy, Spain and Portugal. The exercise will continue until November 6 and will also certify next year’s NATO Response Force headquarters and the functions of the new very-high readiness Spearhead Force. (NATO News, 19 Oct 2015)
In the 2015 NATO Secretary General Annual Report, published in February 2016, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg gives an overview of the 2015 implementation of the Readiness Action Plan and of the enhanced NATO Response Force (p. 14-15).
In May 2016, with only a few months until the next NATO Summit in Warsaw (Poland), an academic article published in Strategic Studies Quarterly offers an interesting evaluation of the RAP and the steps taken to implement it so far. (Article accessible for NATO staff only).
In the analysis "NATO's Land Forces: Strength and Speed Matter", Gen. John Nicholson, the Commander of Resolute Support and United States Forces-Afghanistan, declares that as a result of Russia’s actions in 2014, "the “adaptation” of NATO’s land forces over the last year has resulted in strong, fast land forces that can generate options short of war. Should deterrence fail, these same measures will enable NATO to prevail decisively." (PRISM, 18 July 2016).