By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
BRUSSELS, May 19, 2015 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived here today to join his NATO counterparts in discussing a range of issues confronting the alliance.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey will attend the NATO Military Committee meeting, chaired by Gen. Knut Bartels of the Danish army.
Among the issues on the defense chiefs’ agenda are the NATO response to Russia’s activities in Ukraine, the alliance’s Readiness Action Plan adopted at last year’s Wales Summit and the alliance’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
The Readiness Action Plan creates new capabilities to ensure NATO can respond quickly and firmly to challenges. The plan responds not only to the challenges from Russia, but also to threats from the Middle East and North Africa, NATO officials said.
Restructured, Beefed-up Response Force
The plan restructured and beefed up the NATO Response Force in the land, sea and air domains. Part of the restructuring was creation of a quick-reaction Spearhead Force made up of several thousand ground troops with all requisite air and naval support and able to deploy in days. NATO is working to stand up the new force early next year, and the Military Committee will receive a briefing on the progress tomorrow.
As part of this, the chiefs will receive progress reports on assurance measures for NATO allies bordering Russia. These include establishing a NATO command and control presence in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. NATO presence in these nations will be constant, but deployments will be on a rotational basis.
As the fighting season in Afghanistan progresses, the NATO military chiefs will hear how that mission is progressing and what commanders on the ground expect in the future. Some 13,000 troops from NATO and partner nations are participating in the Resolute Support train, advise and support mission in Afghanistan.
Partnership Interoperability Initiative
The NATO Military Committee also will discuss the alliance’s Partnership Interoperability Initiative. More than a decade of combat experience in Afghanistan has brought the NATO nations and partners to a level of interoperability not seen before. Now that the combat mission has ended, officials said, NATO leaders do not want to see this level of military cooperation go away.
The initiative looks to increase the number and scale of joint exercises, and to improve education and training with 24 countries that have sent troops to serve alongside NATO forces. The initiative looks to give partners greater access to NATO’s common standards and assessments, which are often called the ‘gold standard’ for interoperability and readiness, officials said.
Finally, the committee will be briefed on the alliance’s Kosovo Force, military cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia, and military strategic guidance.