June 26th, 2006 04:05 EST
Top officials witness Response Force demonstration
Over 200 journalists and senior officials witnessed a major show of force by the NATO Response Force, 22-23 June, including an amphibious landing, precision fighter jet bombing, special forces assaults and naval bombardment.
The demonstration, held at Flamingo Bay on the Cape Verdean island of Sao Vicente, included American F-16 and Spanish Harrier jets attacking mock terrorist camps, a helicopter assault by Turkish special forces, Spanish marines storming a beach and a German frigate bombarding enemy positions.
The event was one of the highlights of NATO exercise Steadfast Jaguar, a major test of NATO’s Response Force (NRF).
It was witnessed by top Alliance officials, including the representatives of NATO member countries, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Supreme Allied Commander Europe General James L. Jones, and NATO Response Force Commander General Gerhard W. Back.
“You see here the new NATO, a NATO which has the possibility to be expeditionary, to project stability,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters.
Exercise Steadfast Jaguar is the first time that the various components of the NRF – land, air and sea – come together in one exercise.
It is also the last test of the Force before it is due to become fully operational in October this year.
Once fully operational, the NATO Response Force will be capable of taking on missions ranging from humanitarian relief to full scale combat operations anywhere in the world within a short timeframe.
“The NATO Response Force is the most important tool to show in what way and how NATO has transformed and is transforming,” Mr. De Hoop Scheffer said.
Cape Verde was chosen as the exercise location precisely because it is situated far from mainland Europe.
The main phase of Exercise Steadfast Jaguar lasts until 28 June.