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NATO Transformation on Track With NRF Stand-up

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2003 – The new NATO Response Force was officially stood up today during a ceremony held in Brunssum, the Netherlands.

According to a NATO release, U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, the alliance's supreme allied commander, handed over the first NRF flag to British Gen. Sir Jack Deverell, commander of Allied Forces North, who will oversee the first two NRF rotations.

"The passing of the colors of the NATO Response Force today marks what I consider to be one of the most important changes in the NATO alliance since the signing of the Washington Treaty over 50 years ago," Jones, who's also the chief of U.S. European Command, noted at the ceremony.

The NRF is envisioned to be a joint-service force capable of quickly deploying outside of NATO's traditional area of operations to combat modern-day threats to security and stability such as international terrorism.

The new military organization is slated to attain full operational capability around the fall of 2006 with about 21,000 air, land, and sea troops.

For some time now Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has pushed the U.S. military to transform itself into a more effective, flexible and agile force to deal with new, asymmetrical threats like global terrorism.

In fact, it was Rumsfeld who pointed out the merits of establishing a response unit to Secretary-General George Robertson at an alliance meeting held in Warsaw in September 2002. The alliance adopted the U.S. defense secretary's suggestion at the follow-on Prague NATO Summit held that November.

The NRF, according to SHAPE, will be designed to be able to deploy in five days and sustain itself for 30 days. The force's establishment marks "a major step forward in creating the expeditionary capability, essential in countering the globalization of new threats to peace and security," Deverell said at the ceremony.

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