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Deutsche Welle: NATO's Rapid Response Force Finally Ready for Action

After 4 years in the making, the NATO Response Force will be operational as promised in time for its October 1 launch. Germany is contributing the majority of the soldiers for the alliance's new rapid deployment force.

The United States, NATO's leading member, had pushed for a thorough rebuilding of the Alliance after the terror attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 and the deployment of international troops to Afghanistan. Washington set out to convince its fellow alliance members that NATO should be remodelled in order to face new challenges.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had developed the idea of using NATO as some sort of "tool kit" for the protection against global threats. In 2002, heads of states and governments decided to develop a quick response force, scheduled to be fully operational by October 1st of this year.                

The military dress rehearsal for the force took place this summer on the Capverdian Islands. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was quite satisfied with the test run. "I am convinced that we will be fully operational by October 1st, just as scheduled," he said at the time.

NRF's 26,000 soldiers are now ready for action. The troops -- lead by Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, General James Jones -- are to be able to react to crises within a lead time of 5 days.  

NATO member states will provide troops for the NRF on a rotational basis. The soldiers will stay in their home barracks until required for an emergency. They will be on duty for at least half a year, and 6 months prior to their deployment, will get trained on how to interact with other nations' armies.

by Fran on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 01:58:25 AM EST
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