Exercise VENERABLE GAUNTLET September 2016
This week the Sennelager Training Area in Germany comes alive with over 3000 personnel from 14 NATO Troop Contributing Nations taking part in Exercise VENERABLE GAUNTLET.
The multinational exercise is the UK's national validation exercise for the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (Land) 2017 (VJTF(L)17) Headquarters based upon 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade.
Each of the 14 troop contributing nations are in attendance with elements of the personnel and equipment they would deploy with the VJTF(L). This allows the NATO partners to test and demonstrate their interoperability and the unique capabilities they provide.
Artillery from Force Troop Command will operate with Spanish artillery demonstrating their ability to fire on targets identified and co-ordinated by British and Norwegian reconnaissance patrols.
British, Danish and Polish infantry will work together to ensure that the Armoured, Mechanised and Light Role Battle Groups can communicate and operate together, supported by a multinational engineer group, reconnaissance patrols and attack helicopters.
Throughout the exercise, multi-national logistic support will be provided by the Combat Service Support (CSS) Group that will demonstrate the interoperability of sustainment, maintenance and recovery assets.
The following force elements are taking part:
- United Kingdom: Headquarters 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade, 1st Batallion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, 1st Batalion Grenadier Guards, 26 Regiment Royal Artillery, 35 Engineer Regiment, The Queen’s Royal Hussars, The Royal Dragoon Guards, 77th Brigade, 1st Regiment Royal Military Police, Joint Helicopter Force 3, RLC, REME
- Denmark: Armoured Infantry, Engineers
- Poland: Mechanised Infantry Batallion
- Czech Republlic: CBRN Company
- Spain: Artillery, Engineers, Infantry
- Estonia: Mechanised Infantry Company
- Latvia: Light Infantry
- Norway: Recconaisance Platoon
- Romania: Military Police
To assure, deter and contribute to countering threats against Alliance territory and populations, with a priority to Article 5, in order to demonstrate a collective Alliance response throughout SACEUR’s AO and potentially beyond.
The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) consists of around 20,000 personnel and includes Land, Air, Maritime and Special Forces components.
The Land Component is known as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (Land) (VJTF(L)).
The VJTF is part of NATO’s enhanced NATO Response Force (eNRF) which was agreed at the 2014 Wales NATO Summit when allies decided to enhance the previous NRF to strengthen the Alliance’s collective defence and ensure that NATO has the right forces in the right place at the right time.
The eNRF will now consist of up to 40,000 personnel – a major increase from the previous level of 13,000 – depending on the task it is needed for.
The VJTF(L) comprises a multinational brigade (approximately 5,000 troops), with up to five manoeuvre battalions, supported by air, maritime and Special Forces.
Once fully operational, the VJTF will be supplemented by two additional brigades, as a rapid-reinforcement capability, in case of a major crisis.
If activated, the force will be available to move immediately, following the first warnings and indicators of potential threats, before a crisis begins, to act as a potential deterrent to further escalation.
The rapid arrival of this small but capable military unit would send a very clear message to any potential aggressor: "any attempt to violate the sovereignty of one NATO nation will result in a decisive military engagement with all 28 allied nations”.
The VJTF is established on a rotational and persistent basis and will not be permanently based.
Contributions to NRF will rotate between different NATO countries each year, with the need for a number of lead or framework nations to stand up the force. These framework nations, the core of the new force, are expected to provide headquarters, combat forces, logistics and enablers.
The VJTF(L) 16 framework nation is Spain and for the VJTF(L) 17 it will be the United Kingdom. France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Turkey have offered to serve as lead nations in the following years.
In addition, NATO Allies have a wide range of other forces at their disposal. For example: Allies often send forces to conduct exercises in various locations across Europe; all Allies have national troops at high states of readiness that can quickly respond to a crisis.
The VJTF’s rapid yet flexible response times are what set it apart from other components of the NRF; some units will be ready to deploy in just two days, whilst the majority of units will be ready to move in less than seven days.
In ensuring a high level of readiness the VJTF will be regularly exercised and deployed at short notice.