GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- U.S. Army NATO Brigade's Allied Forces North Battalion conducted a readiness week Oct. 11-14 to prepare U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps for its assumption of the NATO Response Force Land Component role in January.
The ARRC will assume NRF status January 1, 2017. This will require the formation to maintain a very high level of readiness and all of the roughly 35 U.S. personnel assigned to the ARRC must be ready to deploy and maintain that readiness throughout the ARRCs entire tenure in the NRF.
To achieve that readiness, Soldiers had to train in a number of basic Soldiering tasks, qualify on their assigned weapons, and conduct an administrative and medical Soldier Readiness Program.
But achieving a state of readiness for a NATO mission is much more than just shooting at paper targets and getting flu shots. Many hours of work and coordination go on behind the scenes to make sure that each and every member of the ARRC got exactly the training and administrative support they needed, according to AF North Bn. Executive Officer, Maj. Tony Noce.
"We started with basic Soldier task training earlier in the week, then we held ranges, and finally a medical and administrative SRP to make sure the Soldiers were medically deployable, and that their financial and personal needs were being taken care of," said Noce. "It's a lot to fit into a few days, but it's all very important in making sure these Soldiers are ready to conduct their mission for NATO."
After a long bus ride from their home station in the U.K., the members of the ARRC started their training with situational training on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ranges were held Thursday, and a check of medical and administrative readiness was done Friday. The medical and administrative SRP included immunizations, medical appointments and updating wills and other important documents.
The Soldier task training, range safeties and medical and administrative services are provided primarily by the 7th Army Training Command's Combined Arms Training Center, with AF North Bn. Providing coordination and oversight.
The readiness of U.S. Army personnel assigned to NATO is the primary focus of the U.S. Army NATO Bde., but this SRP in particular is critical in enabling the ARRC to take on the role of the NATO NRF.
The NRF is a high readiness force comprising land, air, sea, and Special Forces units capable of being deployed quickly on operations wherever needed. NRF status is rotated among the corps headquarters within the NATO structure and the ARRC is next in line to assume NRF status.
The NRF is NATOs go-to force should an event occur that requires immediate action by NATO, and this high state of readiness requires the Soldiers themselves to maintain a high state of individual readiness, according to ARRC spokesman, Maj. Kip Patterson.
"The Allied Rapid Reaction corps, as our name implies, maintains a high state of readiness at all times," said Patterson. "But sometimes we have to maintain an even higher state of readiness, and NRF is one of those times."
Patterson went on to detail the importance of the individual readiness of U.S. Army NATO Bde. Soldiers assigned to the ARRC.
"The ability to shoot move and communicate are all important at the individual level, and each contributing country is responsible for certifying its own personnel for deployment," he said. "The U.S. Army NATO Brigade makes sure that we, as individuals, are ready to go."