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NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) Trains in Poland


NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) Trains in Poland

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NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) Trains in Poland
NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) Trains in Poland

By road, rail, sea and air – NATO’s quick-reaction force was tasked with making its way to Poland as part of Steadfast Defender 2024, NATO’s biggest exercise in decades. NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) is currently led by the United Kingdom and includes military personnel from eight other NATO Allies – Albania, Hungary, Latvia, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Spain and Türkiye. Troops from these countries practised rapid deployment as part of exercise Brilliant Jump 2024, making their way to training grounds in Poland in a matter of days.

Once there, NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force took part in the Polish-led exercise Dragon 2024, which tasked the quick-reaction forces with repelling a simulated invasion. The drills were part of exercise Steadfast Defender 2024. Involving 90,000 forces from all 32 Allies, the exercise is testing NATO’s new regional defence plans with personnel practising rapid deployment and combat in both Norway and Poland. Steadfast Defender 2024 runs from January to May 2024.

The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a high-readiness NATO rapid deployment force comprising land, sea, air, and special forces units capable of being deployed quickly within short notice. The NRF currently comprises up to 40,000 troops, with plans to increase its manpower to over 300,000 troops. Its forces include units from several non-NATO member partners, including Ukraine, and Georgia. Its forces also include units from Sweden, which joined the Response Force in 2013 and became a NATO member in 2024.

During the 2014 Wales summit following the Crimean crisis, NATO leaders agreed to reorganize the NRF’s core troops into a “spearhead force” known as a “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force” (VJTF) designed to be able to deploy at 48 hours notice, although the actual level of readiness was generally several weeks. This task force – about 20,000 strong – includes a multinational land brigade of around 5,000 troops and air, maritime and SOF components. Leading elements are ready to move within two to three days. Allies assume the lead role for the VJTF on a rotational basis. It was also for the first time linked explicitly to NATO’s Article 5 obligations.

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