NATO started exercising and testing its new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force concept with a recent deployment drill in Germany. The VJTF, which is expected to reach full operational capability in 2016, is part of the newly created NATO Response Force, or “spearhead force.” It is composed of land, air, sea, and Special Forces units capable of deployment within 48 hours and will be composed of some 5,000 troops. The task force has reached “interim capability,” according to NATO. The first exercise, conducted in Germany in early March, involved the 1st German-Netherlands Corps—the NATO Response Force’s standby land headquarters element for 2015. The exercise focused on alert procedures and rapid deployment preparation, deploying the unit on a C-17 flying into the civilian airport at Munster Osnabruck, Germany. Vehicles and personnel with the operational liaison and reconnaissance team were loaded with the help of US and Swedish loadmasters. The OLRT’s job, once deployed, is to establish contacts with authorities and prepare for operations, and in a crisis prepare for NATO follow-on forces. Another alert exercise is scheduled for the VJTF this month, and a deployment exercise will follow in June, said German Army Lt. Col. Axel Schettkamp. (See also Bolstering Europe from the April 2015 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
While some of the Air Force's newly announced changes will happen quickly, it may take most of Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin's tenure in the job to accomplish the rest, he said in a Brookings Institution event Feb. 28.