Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 03/2015

NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force - Can the VJTF give new élan to the NATO Response Force?

Jan Abts

February 2015

NATO Defense College


The latest paper from the NDC Research Division addresses NATO’s efforts to counter the hybrid warfare model implemented successfully in Ukraine in 2014 by Russia. In response, at the NATO Wales Summit in September the Alliance unveiled a modest response meant to simultaneously assure member states along the Eastern borders and deter potential Russian designs on member territory. Teams at NATO Headquarters, Allied Command Operations, and Allied Command Transformation developed the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), consisting of measures meant to assure allies and enhance military adaptation to the new reality. As the Wales Summit declaration stated, “In order to ensure that our Alliance is ready to respond swiftly and firmly to the new security challenges, today we have approved the NATO Readiness Action Plan. It provides a coherent and comprehensive package of necessary measures to respond to the changes in the security environment on NATO's borders and further afield that are of concern to Allies. It responds to the challenges posed by Russia and their strategic implications.” While planners are still working out the details of what the RAP and its associated Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) will look like, that shape is becoming to come into view. Guidance from NATO’s leadership regarding the VJTF was clear: the new force will be part of the NATO Response Force (NRF), it will be joint, and it will have to be able to deploy rapidly. This paper provides insight into the VJTF’s linkages to the NRF and assesses its likelihood for success, based on more than a decade of experience by the larger body