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BRUSSELS, November 4 (Itar-Tass) - NATO’s Steadfast Jazz exercise is a “graduation test” for the alliance’s Response Force, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the monthly press conference on Monday, November 4.
“The purpose of the NATO Response Force is to be able to defend any Ally, deploy anywhere, and deter any threat - all at short notice,” Rasmussen said. “It is the spearhead of NATO. Every year, we test it, to make sure that it is sharp and ready for use.”
More than 6000 soldiers from the NATO countries and several partner countries will participate in the exercise Steadfast Jazz. Nearly half of them will take part in actual manoeuvres. These will involve major land, sea and air ways, and will include a demonstration of actual shooting.
The other half will participate in the exercise of command and control, which involve several NATO bases throughout Europe. Thirteen ships have anchored off the Polish coast, 60 aircraft are engaged in air operations, and the staff at the NATO command structure and control has been put to the test behind the computer screens in a tented camp located in Latvia.
“The air, sea and land headquarters that will command different parts of the force have already been tested. So now they will go through one final test together - and they will then be ready to go into action, if they are required,” Rasmussen said. “Their ability to command complex multinational forces at short notice is a vital part of NATO’s overall capabilities. So it is fitting that we should give them the recognition they deserve.”
The alliance’s largest exercise since 2006, Steadfast Jazz, started on November 2 across Europe, including the Baltic states and Poland. The exercise will involve around 6,000 troops and will run for a week.
Rasmuissen will travel to Latvia on November 6 and to Poland on November 7 in the context of the certification exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013.
On Wednesday, November 6, he will meet with Latvian President Andris Berzins, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis and Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks in Riga.
Together with Latvian President Andris Berzins, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Ministers of Defence of the Baltic States, the Secretary General will participate in briefings on the Steadfast Jazz Exercise.
On Thursday, November 7, in Poland, Rasmussen will have meetings with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
The Secretary General will, together with the Polish President, Ambassadors from the North Atlantic Council and Senior NATO Commanders, join a Live Exercise (LIVEX) demonstration as part of Exercise Steadfast Jazz.
Steadfast Jazz involves air, land, maritime and special forces components. The exercise also involves military headquarters staff from NATO’s Joint Force Command Brunssum, which will have to be certified to lead the NATO Response Force next year. All 28 NATO Allies, as well as Finland, Sweden and Ukraine are taking part in the exercise. Around 3,000 of the troops involved will participate in live exercise training and 3,000 headquarters personnel will be involved in a command and control drill.
“Steadfast Jazz is part of a series of dynamic and demanding exercises that have been organised this year for the NRF. As the operational tempo is expected to decrease after the combat mission in Afghanistan is completed at the end of 2014, NATO will step up training to maintain readiness and interoperability,” NATO said.
The alliance intends to increase training activities to include more ambitious and frequent exercises, a broader range of scenarios and a comprehensive training plan to cover the full range of Alliance missions.
Rasmussen said the exercise “demonstrates NATO’s commitment to its core mission: to safeguard security right across the Alliance” and will make sure that troops across the Alliance and beyond are ready and able to work together: “On any battlefield, in any environment, as a single, united force. Trained as a team. Tested as a team. So that they can work as a team.”