INNSWORTH, U.K. – Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
officially took over as the Land Component Command of the 2017 NATO Response
Force from NATO Rapid Deployable Corps-Spain, during a Handover, Takeover
ceremony here, Jan. 11. Also changing hands was the helm of the NATO Very High
Readiness Joint Task Force (Land) from Spain's 7th Spanish Infantry Brigade to
the UK's 20th Armoured Brigade. Commanders and enlisted leaders from across the
UK and NATO force structures attended the ceremony as well as The Right
Honourable Earl Howe, Minister of State for Defence for the UK.
"It's a great honour for me to be here today," said Lord
Howe. "Today's ceremony represents NATO's commitment to strengthening its
collective defence in the face of real and present danger."
"In these uncertain times, this exchange represents far more
than a routine rotation of duty," he added.
After the flags changed hands from the two Spanish units to
the UK NRF units, UK Lieutenant General Tim Radford, CB DSO OBE, commander HQ
ARRC, took to the podium to speak to his fellow commanders as well as
servicemen and women from across the ARRC about the road ahead. "As a
headquarters we are trained, well-prepared and ready to respond to the full
spectrum of potential missions on which we might be tasked," he said. "There's
no doubt that 2017 will be a significant year." "This is the first year in
which the full enhanced NRF has been assigned, I want to assure you therefore,
that we'll use our time wisely, testing readiness as well as conducting
significant concept development and experimentation," he continued. This will
be done alongside and in conjunction with the other Land High Readiness Forces,
our joint headquarters for the stand-by year, Joint Force Command Naples, as
well as our sister components so that when we hand over to our Italian
counterparts in 2018, we will have driven the overall eNRF concept forward and
strengthened NATO's position and capability," he added.
Recognizing the ARRC's busy schedule in 2016, participating
in several multi-national and NATO exercises preparing for their NRF role this
year, he also extended his thanks for their hard work and the work that is yet
"My thanks to the men and women of the headquarters, and
their families who have ensured that we are now in a position to pick up the
mantle from the Spanish Corps and serve NATO as part of the enhanced NATO
Response Force," he said.
The UK commitment to NATO is seen in the ARRC's mission and
units on rotational battlegroups throughout the Baltics and Poland as part of
the enhanced forward presence. For such an occasion, the NATO Secretary General
Jens Stoltenberg also provided a statement
on the importance of the ceremony today.
"Today, the United Kingdom takes command of the NATO
Response Force. These are NATO's high readiness land, sea, air and Special
Forces capable of being deployed quickly to wherever they are needed," said
Stoltenberg. "Today's ceremony underlines the UK's ongoing commitment to the
North Atlantic Alliance."
"Our ability to move with strength and speed is vital in our
more uncertain world," he continued. "The United Kingdom has always been
central to the security of Europe."
"I also thank Spain for their leadership of the NRF for the
last year. Their professionalism and dedication has been exemplary," said
Text & Photos by U.S. Staff Sgt. Michael Sword (ARRC)