Words and photographs Michael van der Mee
Exercise Brilliant Arrow 2006, an annual live flying NATO exercise, took place over North West Europe from 27th of March until the 7th of April 2006. Specific exercise areas were located in the North Sea, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Participating nations flew from bases in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. The Exercise was conducted by AACCHR (Allied Air Component Command Headquarters Ramstein) through its Air Operations Centers.
Thirteen Nations where involved in this year's Brilliant Arrow: Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The exercise is designed to provide challenging and realistic training opportunities and team building for all participating units in a Crisis Response Operation scenario, with emphasis on NATO Response Force air operations. It will also provide an opportunity to verify the interoperability, mission execution and reporting capabilities of the Air Components of NATO's Response Forces (NRF 7 & 8) that will be on standby from July 2006 to July 2007.
This exercise was related to the NATO maritime exercise Brilliant Mariner 2006 that took place from the 24th of March until the 6th of April 2006 in the German Bight, North Sea, Skagerak, Kattegat and adjacent territorial waters. It is conducted by the Allied Maritime Component Command Northwood, the United Kingdom. A total of more then sixty NATO vessels took place in this large exercise.
The exercise was the last in a series preparing for maneuvers NATO is due to mount in June off Cape Verde in West Africa. These will test the NATO’s new Response Force, a 20.000 strong interservice body developed as a key element in its transformation from Cold War military bloc to post-September 11 global security player.
The so-called NRF brings together naval, air and ground forces which NATO plans to deploy speedily in the event of a crisis. Both exercises are decisive steps on the road towards a NATO Response Force that has full operational capability.