Sweden has become the fourth partner nation after Finland, Georgia, and Ukraine to join NATO’s Response Force, announced the alliance. The North Atlantic Council approved the Nordic nation’s contribution on Oct. 14, clearing the way for its staff officers to participate in Steadfast Jazz 2013 in early November—the largest NATO exercise of the last seven years meant to help test and certify the NRF, according to the alliance’s Oct. 14 release. “Our relationship [with Sweden] is already strong, and this will make it even stronger,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Sweden has “offered substantial forces” to the next four 12-month NRF rotations, including aircraft, ships, and land forces, states the release. Partner countries may contribute to the NRF once the NAC has approved their participation and their forces meet NATO’s standards. They reinforce NATO members’ contributions, but do not replace them, states the release. Finland and Ukraine are also participating in Steadfast Jazz.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."