News story

RAF becomes NATO Response Force lead

The Royal Air Force's Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) today assumed lead responsibility for the NATO Response Force (NRF).

The German Air Force, represented by Brigadier General Nolte, handed over the NRF lead duty to the RAF’s JFACC, Air Commodore Martin Sampson, at an official ceremony at HQ Air Command.

Leading the NRF is based on a rotational system, and the UK takes up the duty every 4 years. The NRF is made up of air, land, maritime and Special Forces components that maintain high readiness to deploy around the world, providing immediate military response to emerging crises.

If a crisis occurs requiring NRF response in 2013, the JFACC and his headquarters will command and control joint air operations. The JFACC will integrate military air assets from NATO and tailor the capability to the specific planned mission.

Air Commodore Sampson said:

This is a really important time for the UK JFAC (Joint Force Air Component ) and the RAF. Operations over Libya emphasised how important our role within NATO is as well as underlying the need to maintain a robust air command and control capability.

This year holds many uncertainties, the unfolding events in Africa is but one example; however, the UK JFAC is well prepared and confident in its ability to face up to the challenge of leading NATO air power.

I would like to thank the whole German JFAC organisation for sharing its experiences of NRF leadership over the past 12 months and General Nolte for taking the time to hand over formally today.

As strong NATO partners, I look forward to our continued dialogue and interaction as we continue to discharge the most vital task of air command and control.

Brigadier General Nolte (left) and Air Commodore Martin Sampson
Brigadier General Nolte (left) and Air Commodore Martin Sampson [Picture: Corporal Dylan Browne RAF, Crown Copyright/MOD 2013]

The RAF JFAC is staffed by professional and operationally-experienced airmen and women from across the Service who are expert at delivering the operational capability of the RAF.

Flight Lieutenant Mark Buckley has worked in electronic warfare plans at JFAC headquarters for the past 2 years and has been involved in exercises that have prepared the JFACC to take on the NRF role. He said:

The JFAC brings together every branch and trade of the RAF and shows what air power can do, whether it’s intelligence-gathering, shows of force, delivering relief supplies or security operations.

Participating in exercises allows experience, corporate knowledge and working practices to be shared and provides an insight into how different HQs operate.

Air Command and Control is at the heart of how the Royal Air Force goes about its business and the JFACC is charged with generating, enabling and commanding air power.

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