Since 1 July 2005 and for six months onwards, the French
air force will be one of the main force provider of the NATO Response Force or
NRF 5 air component. Together with the Royal Air Force, it will provide a
majority of assets and fulfil its command and control functions through C2
structures. Relying on resources thoroughly interoperable with all the NRF
engaged air assets, the air force will permit France to be the framework
nation conducting new operations, in an approach fully compatible with its
European Union commitments.
Established at the Prague Summit in November 2002, as a
result of NATO transformation, the NRF which encompasses 20 000 personnel, will
provide a rapid, combined, joint and tailored response to the threats of the
21st century (terrorism, humanitarian crisis, threats to civilian non combatants).
This capability may also be the initial entry force of a larger follow-up force
called HRF (High Readiness Force) at corps level (namely 100 000 personnel).
If the NRF is deployed, it will be under the command of a
French officer general at the head of almost 180 aircraft and 6000 personnel
from various NATO countries. The air component will build up at a five to
fifteen days notice.
Based on a three-year alert cycle, the NRF has three joint
command structures, each charged with the implementation, combat readiness and
potential commitment of the force, on rotation. These headquarters are located
in Brunssum (Netherlands), Naples and Lisbon.
Regarding NRF 5, it is Lisbon headquarters, also called JC
Lisbon and based in Portugal, which will command the in-theatre joint operations
in case of commitment. While coordinating the implementation of land, maritime,
air and special forces, this headquarters has been working in close
collaboration with the French airmen since the preparation phase of the NRF 5
alert, which started on 1 January 2005. The incorporation of French officers
into JC Lisbon establishes an effective interface between our country and other
France and Great Britain are the main participants of NRF 5
and share balanced responsibilities. The command of this force component will be
French and British on rotation. NRF 5 will be under French command.
The Franco-British partnership represents a contribution of
almost 80% of the air command and control personnel (JFACC) and 40% of the air
assets; the other NATO countries supplying the remaining resources. We must
emphasize the excellent team spirit which binds together the two air forces,
generates a remarkable synergy of action and a high efficiency in the theatre
Concerning the national mission, the implementation of the
NRF 5 command and control structure is the responsibility of the Air Defence and
Air Operations Command (CDAOA). The other FAF commands participate in the
manning of this structure (the air combat command, the air mobility command, the
CIS command...). The French structure, which is quite close to the NATO and
British organizations, is founded on a doctrine and national procedures which
are fully interoperable with our allies'. All foreign officers can therefore
easily adapt to the structure while maintaining their initial work routine.
Interoperability is a major challenge to the FAF, in
particular regarding CIS integration (Communication and Information Systems)
into the Alliance networks. Exercise Allied Action 05 (17 May-2 June 2005),
which was the final certification phase for our NRF structures, demonstrated the
efficiency and interoperability of the French air staff-developed CIS. A cutting
edge and highly efficient gateway (Interface Exchange Gateway IEG) was
specifically designed to connect the secured French network to the NATO secret
network. The results were optimum and will allow promoting a better integration
of national networks into the Alliance's.
Finally and this is a first, the FAF has committed itself on
behalf of NATO to provide two out of the three deployable air bases (DOBs) in
case of real operation, the Royal Air Force providing the third one. Up to now,
no nation had ever volunteered to provide such a capability which is vital to
the support of the operational units deployed in the theatre. Their projection
has been prepared in detail; the equipment in mainland France has been
identified and located, is ready to be collected, pre-forwarded and deployed in
accordance with the operational requirement phasing.
We must also underline the significant work accomplished by
the French air force staff concerning the deployment of equipment (tents, air
conditioning systems, water supply systems, generators...) to satisfy mobility
requirements at national or European level.
It is through exercises such as Opera 2003, Eolo 2004, Airex
2005, and eventually Allied Action 05, that the French air force has honed its
deployment and air component leadership capabilities. Its competences have been
acknowledged by the Alliance through the certification of NRF and HRF levels.
The FAF is able to command and control an air component, to prepare its rapid
deployment and to support it.
This dual certification demonstrates the operational
capability that the French air force can provide both to NATO and to the
European Union or to any other interregional organization under official