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NATO Military Experts 'war game' VJTF Implementation

Military experts conducted a two-day table-top exercise at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium on 27-28 January 2015 in order to further define and develop how the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) will be implemented and tested.

The VJTF is one of many measures agreed to at the Wales Summit in 2014 in order to enhance the capabilities of the Alliance to respond to emerging security challenges. It is a joint force consisting of a land component with appropriate air, maritime and special operations components as needed. It will be able to deploy within a few days to respond to any challenges that may arise on NATO's flanks.

Work on developing and testing the VJTF concept is proceeding well. The Land Component of the 'traditional' NRF 2015 is now acting as an Interim VJTF and is the basis for VJTF development. The troops for NRF 2015 are provided by Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and other nations. Maritime and air elements will be provided by the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Belgium amongst others.

SHAPE military staff have been working for several months to produce recommendations on how the VJTF might be structured, deployed, sustained and integrated into the overall NRF structure. NATO Defence Ministers will discuss the size and design of the force when they meet in Brussels on February 5, 2015.

"I am immensely pleased with the outcomes of this two-day table-top exercise," said Colonel Jacques Parenty, one of the senior military leaders working on VJTF development at SHAPE. "Military and national experts from across the Alliance came together to develop the functions and criteria for the various forces within the NRF structure. We also agreed on a series of exercises that will help us evaluate our progress and make necessary refinements as we move forward," he added.

The program of exercises, trials, and evaluations will be conducted throughout 2015 in order to develop, refine and implement the VJTF concept. Key training events will include an 'Alert Exercise' in early April that will refine NATO's abilities to rapidly deploy troops at short notice and a 'Deployed Exercise' where troops from an interim VJTF will be tested on their abilities to deploy and respond to an evolving crisis. The interim force will also feature prominently in Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE in October, as well as in other exercises later in the year.

"The development process for the VJTF is rigorous, but the end result will be a highly reactive and extremely flexible force that will improve the capabilities of the existing NRF," said Colonel Parenty. "There is still a lot of work for us to do, but I am pleased with our progress to date," he said.

[Source: Nato, Allied Command Operations, Mons, Bel, 30Jan15]

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