NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen together with the Presidents of Poland and Latvia, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, the Ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council, and senior Allied military commanders watched a live-fire training demonstration involving forces from across the Alliance and NATO partner Ukraine at a military base in northwestern Poland on Thursday (7 November 2013).
The demonstration was part of the Steadfast Jazz exercise which is testing air, land, maritime and special forces components of the NATO Response Force (NRF) between 2-9 November. "As we complete our biggest combat operation in Afghanistan at the end of next year, we will build on the lessons we learned there through exercises like this. So for NATO this is the shape of things to come,” said the Secretary General. He added that “Steadfast Jazz is more than just a test for our troops: it is the place where we can test our current and future capabilities, and our long-term plans to defend any ally, deploy anywhere and deter any threat. And the lessons that we learn here today will help to keep our forces strong, and to keep them strongly connected, in the years to come”.
Thursday's live demonstration involved hundreds of troops from at a training area on the Drawsko Pomorski military base. The multinational demonstration involved tanks, artillery, combat troops and missile launchers tasked with repelling a simulated attack, as well as medical evacuation and chemical decontamination. “This is a NATO exercise – but officers from our partner countries, Finland and Sweden, were there too. And today, troops from Ukraine took part in this live exercise”, the Secretary General said.
Steadfast Jazz involves a total of 6,000 troops. Around 3,000 of the troops involved participated in the live exercise and 3,000 headquarters personnel are involved in the command and control drill. The exercise is to certify NATO's Joint Force Command Brunssum to lead the NRF in 2014. The Secretary General also held talks with Polish President Bronisław Komorowski ahead of the exercise and then went on to Warsaw for talks with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
In Warsaw, the Secretary General thanked Prime Minister Tusk for Poland’s significant contribution to NATO’s Afghanistan mission and said he would count on Poland’s sustained commitment after NATO’s combat mission is completed in the end of 2014. “I also want to commend Poland for the great strides it has made in increasing its defence investment. You are one of the few Allies whose expenditure approaches our two percent benchmark – and we thank you for that”, the Secretary General said. He added that Poland leads the way on multinational cooperation, both in NATO and the European Union, including in promoting regional defence cooperation.
“I look to Poland to play a leadership role in ensuring that this December’s European Council on Security and Defence makes substantial progress in addressing capability shortfalls in Europe, because a strong European defence will ensure a strong NATO”, the Secretary General said.