The German Army is ready for NATO Response Force 2022-2024
The German Army is ready for NATO Response Force 2022-2024
- National and Collective Defence
- Reading time:
- 6 MIN
With the 37 Armoured Infantry Brigade “Freistaat Sachsen”, the German Army has already begun providing military personnel for the NATO Response Force (NRF) 2022-2024. And from next year, this brigade will also assume the special role of lead element for the multinational land components of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force ), the so-called spearhead of NATO. The VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force is also part of the NRF.
37 Armoured Infantry Brigade is part of 10 Armoured Division in Veitshöchheim. The HQ of 10 Armoured Division provides the proportionate national HQ for all German NRF forces (except naval forces), which ensures national command and control upon activation of the NRF 2022-2024. After the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force commitment of 9 Armour Demonstration Brigade in 2019, Germany thus provides another essential and credible contribution to the responsiveness of the Alliance.
The commitment to the NRF ranges from the stand-up phase in 2022 (preparation and certification phase) to the standby phase in 2023 (state of alert phase) to the stand-down phase in 2024 (after-action activity phase). Since early 2020, 37 Armoured Infantry Brigade has engaged in intense preparation for this commitment. Together with the Netherlands and Norway as well as other troop-contributing nations, Germany has thus been committed to the NRF since the beginning of 2022. The Saxon formation can benefit from the lessons learned in the context of VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force (L) 2029. It will incorporate into its working process the experiences that 9 Armour Demonstration Brigade made in terms of HQ processes, logistic challenges and the early integration of multinational forces and adopt the processes developed by the Brigade to deal with these challenges. Capabilities and structures have also changed, of course, and so 2019 is not a blueprint for every aspect in 2023.
What is the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force ?
The VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force is part of the NRF. The establishment of the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force was decided as part of the “Readiness Action Plan” at the NATO Summit in Newport, Wales, in September 2014. Against the backdrop of Russia’s actions towards Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea, the NATO member states considered it an urgent necessity to be capable of a rapid and flexible response to security developments by means of a “spearhead”, the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force . The VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force is an essential element of deterrence and defence in Europe. It is characterised by its high operational readiness, its full range of equipment and its readiness to deploy within 48 to 72 hours.
In addition to its land components, the NATO spearhead includes, among others, air forces, naval forces as well as cyber and special forces. As far as the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force land components are concerned, NATO calls for providing an operational, self-sufficient and mission-capable formation, a reinforced multinational combat brigade.
The employment of the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force is decided at the political level by the NATO member states. The German Bundestag then decides at the national level whether German forces will participate in a NATO mission.
- The mission as an NRF(L) brigade includes a three-year commitment with different phases (stand-up, standby and stand-down) and corresponding alert times, the so-called notice to move (NTM).
- The NRF force package, which includes the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force (L) brigade, may be reinforced by up to two other brigades of the Initial Follow-On Forces Group (IFFG), which are the preceding and the subsequent VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force forces in the stand-up and the stand-down phases, respectively. The VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force (L) is commanded by a Land Component Command, which changes annually and is provided by one of the multinational corps HQs.
To accomplish its complex mission, the major mechanised unit from Frankenberg in Saxony will lead up to 12,000 service members in the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force in 2023, about a third of whom are also part of the basic structure of 37 Armoured Infantry Brigade. The remaining share of personnel will be provided by other troop contributors from 10 Armoured Division, from the Army, from other major military organisational elements as well as from other nations.
As it stands, a total of nine NATO partners will contribute forces and capabilities to the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force (L) 2023:
- the Netherlands,
- the Czech Republic,
Beyond the Army, the brigade also includes forces from other major military organisational elements: the Cyber and Information Domain Service, the Joint Support and Enabling Service, the Joint Medical Service and the Air Force.
Four battle groups will form the combat force of VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force Land:
- the German battle group, led by 393 Tank Battalion from Bad Frankenhausen,
- a battle group from the Netherlands,
- a battle group from Norway,
- the “spearhead battalion” from the Netherlands.
- reconnaissance unit (multinational),
- artillery unit (multinational),
- logistic unit (multinational),
- engineer unit,
- Army aviation task force,
- medical task force (multinational).
In total, the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force Land Brigade consists of ten battalion-size units and another ten independent companies and squadrons, which provide support capabilities such as military police, civil-military cooperation, CBRNchemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defence, establishment and running of operations centres, communication and IT operations, ground-based air defence as well as operational communication. For multinational cooperation to work, procedures must be coordinated, processes must be adapted, different technological systems must be interconnected and common understanding must be created. Close cooperation and regular exchanges are already taking place prior to the multinational exercises in 2022.
A large number of exercises
It takes time for the different capabilities of different nations to come to properly interact, which can be achieved through workshops, computer-based exercises and finally through full-strength exercises. The Kalter Wettiner brigade exercise at the Army Combat Training Centre in November 2020 marked the beginning of NRF exercise activities. Since then, 37 Armoured Infantry Brigade has worked hard to prepare for the NRF mission, including by participating in major military exercises. In 2021, individual capabilities were prepared and trained at the national level, which included the national preparation and certification of the military police company and of the mixed helicopter task force. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated training restrictions as well as comprehensive administrative assistance measures, some projects were delayed by six to seven months.
In 2022, several exercises will be used to connect the foundations laid in 2021:
- In March, during the Stolzer Wettiner command post exercise at the Army Warfighting Simulation Centre in Wildflecken, the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force (L) troop contributors with their command and control facilities will be connected to the brigade command post to practice interacting as part of the information and communications network of the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force (L) 2023.
- In April, during the Wettiner Schwert exercise at the Army Combat Training Centre in Letzlinger Heide, the German battle group, led by 393 Tank Battalion, will face up to the challenge of certification.
- In May and June, the entire NRF’s information technology will be put to the test during the Steadfast Cobalt exercise. The aim is to achieve uninterrupted and reliable communications across national borders.
- The Wettiner Heide exercise, a large multinational full-strength exercise that will include a march with waterway crossing and more than 5,000 exercise participants from up to nine nations, will take place in the Bergen area in May.
- In October, a response cell of 37 Armoured Infantry Brigade will take on the role of NRF brigade in the Steadfast Jupiter certification exercise of the 1 German/Netherlands Corps as the land component command at the Army Warfighting Simulation Centre in Wildflecken.
- At the end of this year of certifications, the command post of the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force land brigade will be certified during the Cougar Sword exercise at the Army Warfighting Simulation Centre in Wildflecken.