As Russia decries Washington’s “anti-Russian” foreign policy and alleged efforts by the US to undermine the global nuclear power balance — and as Congress and NATO do their best to confirm Moscow’s fears by voting to provide lethal aid to Kiev and by conducting military exercises along the Russian border, respectively — NATO is now set to test a new “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force,” which will see soldiers from the Czech army ready for deployment within two days. The latest NATO sabre rattling also involves German and Dutch forces and, as AP reports, is set to ramp up in the coming months:
NATO is completing a first testing of its new force created to face new challenges from Russia.
Some 150 soldiers from the Czech army's 43rd airborne battalion have been training to be ready for deployment within 48 hours "as NATO reevaluates the risks," Maj. Gen. Jiri Baloun said Thursday. The previous NATO standard times for that were between 10 and 80 days, Baloun said.
In the Netherlands, 900 German and 200 Dutch soldiers have been doing the same. The units will be moved for further trials to Poland in June while some 25,000 NATO troops will complete the exercise of the new force in Italy, Portugal and Spain in October and November.
The units belong to NATO's new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.
And here’s what NATO itself has to say about the endeavor:
NATO completed the first military drills for its new rapid reaction force, on Thursday (9 April 2015). From Tuesday (7 April 2015) through Thursday, more than 1,500 troops took part in exercise “Noble Jump,” designed to test whether troops assigned to NATO’s new Spearhead Force, or Very High Joint Readiness Task Force, could be ready to deploy 48 hours after receiving an order-to-move.
Across Europe, headquarters personnel from Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Slovenia, Poland and Portugal tested their responses to NATO alert orders. In the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, troops and equipment were assembled quickly at airfields and railway stations as if they were about to depart. The units involved in this week’s exercise will also be involved in further trials in Poland in June.
“NATO military planners have been working tirelessly to enhance NATO’s Response Force and implement the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, and today our progress is manifested in the rapid deployments we see happening in locations across the Alliance,” said General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe. “These measures are defensive, but are a clear indication that our Alliance has the capability and will to respond to emerging security challenges on our southern and eastern flanks,” he said.
In response to the changed security environment in Europe, NATO leaders at the Wales Summit decided to create a new quick reaction military force designed to respond swiftly to new challenges on the Alliance’s southern and eastern borders. The high readiness force will include about 5,000 land troops, with supporting maritime, special operations and air units. Lead elements of the new force will be able to move in as little as 48 hours. The Spearhead Force is part of the Alliance’s larger NATO Response Force, which is being increased to a force level of around 30,000 troops.
So ultimately, this is an effort to show the Kremlin just how quickly NATO can have soldiers at the ready should Russia decide to demonstrate an intolerable amount of “aggression” in the Baltics. It turns out the answer is “in about 48 hours,” proving yet again that today’s geopolitical landscape is becoming ever more perilous on an almost daily basis.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin is warning NATO against efforts to train the Ukrainian national guard. From RT:
Moscow is urging the removal of all foreign military formations from Ukraine, including the instructors from the United States and NATO, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily.
“We know that hundreds of US and NATO servicemen are planning to come to Ukraine to train the National Guard. The training camps are being set up not only in western Ukraine, but also in other parts of the country. This is a dangerous process. We would push for all foreign and illegal military units to be removed from Ukraine,” Karasin said.
More color from NewsWeek on NATO's rapid deployment exercises:
"We are able to get everybody processed and supplied to be on the airplane within 48 hours," said Captain Rob Morsink, from the Dutch 11th Air Manoeuvre Brigade. "We basically confirmed that that's not an issue at all."
"We have 900 German troops being recalled to four garrisons right now and checking their ability to deploy," said Polish Colonel Mariusz Lewicki, a top NATO military planner.
After being given notice to deploy on Tuesday, the Dutch and Czech units recalled their soldiers to base and had the lead troops ready to move in as little as eight hours, Lewicki said.
Surprised by the speed of Russia's military intervention in Crimea last year, NATO leaders have approved wide-ranging plans to boost the alliance's defenses in eastern Europe and create a new "spearhead" rapid reaction force with 5,000 soldiers.