NATO Response Force Political Deftness, Economic Efficiency, Military Power; Strategic Insights: v.2, issue 4 (April 2003)
Mariano, Stephen J.
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An intellectual equivalent of a raid is how a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) staffer described US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's proposal for a rapidly deployable response force during the September 2002 meeting of NATO Defense Ministers. With relatively little warning to Alliance colleagues, Mr. Rumsfeld proposed the establishment of a robust, NATO force capable of more than just flag-waving. This force, often referred to as the NATO Response Force or NRF, is intended not only to have fairly sharp teeth but also to be the vehicle that brings other Alliance forces and concepts into the 21st century. Many observers believe that this US proposal, timed as it was just a few months before the Prague Summit, was offered to downplay the Summit's enlargement policies (thereby not offending the Russians) and to give NATO Allies one last clear chance of developing a credible war-fighting capability. A kinder view holds that the NRF is a bit of an olive branch designed to allay fears of increasing US isolationism, particularly based on American exclusion of NATO during major portions of Operation Enduring Freedom, and presents a tangible link between the United States, NATO and even the European Union (EU). Everyone recognizes that NATO's European members need to increase their military capabilities relative to their American counterpart. The NRF may offer a way to refocus national economic resources devoted to the Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) and to serve as the catalyst for NATO's military transformation efforts. This document explains why NATO must properly organize, train, and equip their joint combined force for significant crisis response capability, especially in the area where European Union efforts fall short: warfighting capability.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (April 2003), v.2 no.4