Target Centermass

2/10/2006

NATO Commander Fears Rapid-reaction Force Delay

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:30 pm

This is not a good sign for the future relevancy of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO’s top commander of operations said on Friday he doubted whether the alliance would have enough troops to declare a long-heralded rapid reaction force fully operational in October as planned.

A delay to the 25,000-strong NATO Response Force (NRF) would be a setback to U.S.-backed efforts to turn the alliance that was Europe’s Cold War protector into an outfit capable of launching itself into crisis spots around the world at days’ notice.

NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. James Jones, in an interview with Reuters at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Sicily, said NATO allies still had not come up with the final 25 percent of the troops due to serve in the force.

“The reason I’m not confident is it isn’t resourced now,” Jones said, when asked if he was confident it would be fully operational by October.

“As things stand now, I can’t say that, missing 25 percent of a force, that I have a great deal of confidence that we’re going to generate 25 percent as if by magic. I’m hoping to get there,” he added.

Jones also said the alliance would scale back the first major maneuvers for the force, first proposed by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2002, in the Atlantic island group of Cape Verde this June.

“We’ve downscaled the operation in terms of some of the manpower, which is really what costs a lot of money,” Jones said. He said some 6,000 troops would take part instead of a planned 8,000, insisting it would still be a valid test.

With the countries squabbling over financial and troop contributions for the relatively small response force, I find myself again questioning the worth of the Cold War-era alliance in the world of today and tomorrow.

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