NATO Assurance Measures
At the NATO Wales Summit in September 2014, Allied leaders approved a Readiness Action Plan (RAP) to ensure the Alliance is ready to respond swiftly and firmly to new security challenges. The plan provides a comprehensive package of measures to counter the changes in the security environment in and near Europe, to include the challenges posed by Russia and the threats emanating from the Middle East and North Africa. The RAP contains two pillars: Assurance and Adaptation.
Assurance measures are designed to increase NATO’s military presence and activity in order to reassure our Allies and deter potential aggressors. Assurance activities include an increased air, land and maritime presence along the borders of the Alliance. Examples of Assurance activities include additional air policing patrols over the Baltics, Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) flights along the eastern border, and more ships on patrol in the Baltic Sea. Assurance measures also include Alliance exercises which prove, and help improve, NATO interoperability and powers, thus deterring possible adversaries.
NATO's Readiness Action Plan
Adaptation measures are activities designed to enhance the long-term military posture and capabilities of the Alliance. Adaptation efforts are focused on improving the readiness and responsiveness of NATO. Central to this effort is the enhancement of the NATO Response Force (NRF). This force is in transition as NATO military staffs work to phase in the concept of a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) capable of responding rapidly to crises.
The VJTF will be a "Spearhead Force” of approximately 5,000 ground troops supported by air, maritime and Special Forces, which can deploy within days. The VJTF will be able to move at the first indication of hybrid or conventional warning signs, before a crisis begins, to act as a potential counter to further escalation. The VJTF’s rapid response times and its ability to deploy as a smaller, more focused force are what set it apart from other components in the NRF.
AIRCOM will support an emerging crisis by continuing its standing missions of Air Policing
(AP) and Ballistic Missile Defence
(BMD) as well as the early activation of the NCS Joint Force Air Component
(JFAC). The JFAC should be stood-up well in advance of any crisis so that AIRCOM can manage the transition from Air Policing to Air Defence and provide Command and Control of air assets to set the conditions for VJTF deployment. The NCS or "Ramstein” JFAC (as opposed to a NATO Force Structure JFAC) will be utilized in an Article 5 or European scenario due to the size and complexity of air operations; this is especially true for operations in a contested environment.
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