NATO leaders meeting at the NATO summit in Wales on September 4 and 5 will be discussing the option of adding a “high readiness joint task force” or “spearhead force” to the existing NATO Response Force (NRF) capable of reacting to threats to NATO territory within two days, said a senior NATO official here Sept. 1.
“At the moment, the concept is for the spearhead force to be deployed on Allied territory,” said the official without ruling out it being deployed elsewhere if the need arose. “With the speed with which things can happen now, NATO realized the need to improve its ability to react to crises more quickly,” he said. The intention is that it deploys very early in a crisis as a visible demonstration of Alliance collective force, he said. The size of the force would vary according to the situation but it could be very small up to brigade size, added the official.
NATO has already taken measures to reassure eastern European countries fearful of potential Russian aggression by doubling air policing patrols, putting on extra AWACS flights, increasing the intensity of exercises and deploying more ships in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea. “This is an ongoing presence. That’s the new baseline. On top are adaptation measures [such as the spearhead force] to be agreed at the summit,” said NATO spokesperson Ioana Lungescu.
The spearhead force is part of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan, which the senior official was confident would be agreed at the summit despite its complexity. The Readiness Action Plan (RAP) was conceived initially as a result of Russian aggression in Ukraine but NATO quickly realized that it had to respond to crises to the south east and to the south, he said. “The RAP needs to deal with all the crises we might face in future wherever they may come from,” he added.