German forces have now taken the lead for the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), providing thousands of soldiers on standby and ready to deploy within days.
Germany takes over from Italy, which provided the VJTF lead brigade in 2018.
The VJTF in 2019 is based on a German brigade, the 9th Panzerlehrbrigade. The Netherlands and Norway support the German contingent adding capabilities such as aviation and mechanised infantry.

France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania also provide forces. Together, they represent a multinational brigade of around 8,000 troops.

“The VJTF is a substantial contribution to our collective defence,” said NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu. “In 2019, nine Allies will contribute to the VJTF. This is a strong display of our capabilities and our resolve to work together. Once activated, the VJTF, our Spearhead Force, is available to move immediately to defend any Ally against any threat”, said the Alliance in a statement.

The VJTF is a joint force, consisting of a land component, supported by air, maritime and special forces. It is part of the Alliance’s larger NATO Response Force (NRF) with around 40,000 troops.

This year, the 1st German/Netherlands Corps is in charge of the NRF’s land forces. Admiral James Foggo commands the entire NRF from NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy.

Last year we reported that the vast majority of major weapons systems in the German military were unavailable for training exercises or deployment, according to a German Defence Ministry report.

According to local media, the German Defence Ministry said that a higher number of training missions and deployments since Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine in 2014 had caused existing equipment to wear down quicker than it had previously.


    • Did you miss the one about a SM2 missile misfiring, failing to launch and burning out a VLS tube? Germany really is the laughing stock.

      Honestly, Europe is so screwed if it wants to base its defense around Germany and good like that FCAS France!

  1. Looking at Wikipedia the 9th Panzerlehrbrigade is comprised of one hell of a lot of “demonstration” battalions/brigades, 4 out of 8. Not sure what they are, any ideas?

  2. Panzer Lehr units have traditionally been the demonstration and test unit of the German army, they were a very effective panzer division in WW2, so it no surprise that they are being used for this role.

  3. I understand that the newest German frigate had s 4 degree list to port and was sent back to the builders. Apparently it turns out that the whole class will have the same problem due to the placement of the the engine and to rectify the issue all 3 ships currently built will have to be completely rebuilt and a complete redesign of the remaining 2 yet to built vessels.

    So much for the much vaunted German engineering excellence.

    • It is sadly tyre. But Germanic hyperbole is that their engineering prowess is 2nd to none and you have to buy German to get quality. Utter BS. If their engineering was that good they would have won at least one of the 2 world wars they started.
      Reality is British shipbuilding is superior. The Germans have not just built a QE class carrier or Astute class subs.
      It could not happen to a nicer bunch of people. Hope the F125 Baden class costs billions to fix. Large, underarmed, over hyped crap.

      • I don’t think the Germans would ever claim that their shipbuilding was world leading, it’s never been their forté at any point in history or today. Implying German engineering is anything less than deeply impressive in nearly every other field though is just plain old silly

      • The Germans lost on the Russian front due to sheer weight of numbers weather, long lines of communication, the partisans, their racial policies, Russian heroism, and sheer folly by Adolf Hitler.

        Despite their technical expertise and quality of their tanks, their tactical acumen, and quality of the Wermacht and Waffen SS.

        • Germans technical expertise was so good their equipment didn’t work in the cold and they had no suitable clothing. The T34 was superior to anything the Germans had and in the sufficient numbers.
          German tactics were simple, to undertake a huge surprise attack on a country they had signed a non aggression treaty with and they were prepared for war unlike any of their adversaries who didn’t want war.
          The Waffen SS were ruthless fanatical Nazis who carried out numerous war crimes. They were not soldiers as most would understand but more akin to merciless crusaders. Despite some of their number protestations they were and will always be the scum of the earth.

          • Hi Sjb1968.

            Right, lets go through this, as I think you are a tad wide of the mark in some areas. I’m well read on the Great Patriotic War and will happily discuss this subject all day.

            This is the reason I often defend Russia here, I’m well aware of what they went through and the wider historical suspicions that prevail in the Russian mind set. With good reason.

            German equipment was found wanting before Moscow in 41 yes, after it not so much. Being the coldest winter anyone could recall, even the Russians had trouble. Winter, and the mud before it, did not discriminate between German or Russian.

            Later in the war the Russian army could overcome this in part due to Lend Lease where the western allies supplied them with tens of thousands of trucks. Nothing superior to the German, just a question of numbers and logistics.

            The Germans at first had no winter clothing because Adolf Hitler had sworn the Soviet Union would be defeated before Winter and refused to prepare beforehand, not due to any technical deficiencies. From 42 they were so equipped.

            A single Tiger could engage T34’s at ranges they could not, and defeat numbers far greater locally, though on a wider front of course they would still be defeated and still need to withdraw. This was helped by the fortunate ( for us ) obsession of Hitler with holding onto ground and refusing to withdraw until it was too late.

            A single T34 was often outgunned by both Panthers and Tigers, despite the undoubted brilliance of its design, and simplicity for mass production. Only when the KV1 and JS Tanks arrived was parity achieved. The T34 also often lacked a radio, and the crews were poorly trained. Just ask 5th Guards Tank army at Provkarovka at the Battle of Kursk who lost several hundreds of their tanks against the 2 SS Panzer Korps, who lost far less.

            German tactics, I’m talking of individual battle tactics, not wider strategic planning, as you say the treacherous Operation Barbarossa.
            Saying their “only” tactic was a surprise attack does not show any understanding of the thousands of battles on the Russian Front.

            The Waffen SS. I’m well aware they carried out numerous war crimes, I could list most of them. I could also list those carried out by the NKVD, and wider Soviet policies against Ukrainians, Balts, and others.

            Ruthless fanatical Nazis. Yes no doubt, many were. Some worse than others. It is also important to say that many in the Werhmacht, Navy, and Luftwaffe were also Nazi, not just the SS. The German army carried out many war crimes.

            Saying “they were not soldiers” needs some explanation, as this has been a bone of contention since the wider SS ( Gestapo, SD, Kripo, General SS, and others ) was rightly declared a criminal organisation at Nuremburg.

            Members of the Waffen SS have always maintained they were separate from the wider SS. This is only partially true.

            For example, the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf was indeed originally formed from men of the Totenkopfverbande, Concentration Camp Guards, led by a particularly evil commander in Theodore Eike.

            So were several other original divisions. Later men were conscripted into the Waffen SS like the army, not all would have been die hard Nazis.

            There was constant exchange between the camps and the Waffen SS throughout the war, a definite link there and one Waffen SS veterans try to play down, but they cannot.

            Waffen SS men served in the Einzatzgruppen, but did not make up the majority of it, another link to war crimes and the Holocaust.

            Most westerners are only aware of camps with gas. Most were killed in the Holocaust not by gas, but by depravation, starvation, and by mass shooting, especially on the Eastern Front, under cover of the Partisan War.

            Saying they ( the Waffen SS ) “were not soldiers” is not totally true when there were 1 million men in the organisation, many of whom went nowhere near the Nazi terror apparatus. Some units were composed of Belgians, Dutch, Norwegians, Latvians, and others, who were anti communist, not necessarily Nazi.

            Some of the best German units on the Eastern Front and indeed facing the British Army in Normandy were Waffen SS Divisions, Panzer Divisions with better equipment than their Werhmacht counterparts, who bled and died like any other front line combatant.

            These Waffen SS Panzer Divisions fought many battles against the Red Army, as soldiers, despite the dubious actions and links of many of their members.

            So yes, ruthless fanatical Nazis, many indeed scum of the earth.

            But your off hand dismissal does not tell the whole story, and needs context.


          • Danielle it is always good to find someone who has a common interest in history and especially WW2 although my real interest is all things in the air and on the sea.
            I was ribbing you about tactics and I have read a fair bit about Von Manstein’s very clever mobile defence tactics on the eastern front, which even defeated a certain Mr Zukhov at the Demyansk pocket. That he advised NATO post war about how to counter the Soviets says it all.
            Of course my point was that the advantage nearly always lies with the premediated aggressor and here the myth that somehow the German Army were somehow superior to anyone has somehow been allowed to take hold. When faced with equally prepared and equipped forces they certainly were no better but certainly dogged, well lead and disciplined. Even in April 1940 British Matilda’s locally pushed back the Germans until they were overwhelmed and outflanked by shear weight of numbers.
            Tanks are interesting because I believe you are falling into the same trap as many and again stories about how good the German tanks were has been exaggerated over time. That ours and the US Sherman were poor is sadly true and the Tommy cocker or Ronson were sad reflections of this lack of quality
            But the Panzers IVs mainly F1 and 2s (I think) of 41/42 were outgunned by the T34. Both the Tiger and Panther came later and the latter to counter the T34.
            The Tiger was too heavy, limited in range, difficult to transport, expensive to manufacture, over engineered and was very unreliable when first introduced. It numbers were far too few to make any difference. As for the Panther it was again slow and expensive to build, only came into service in 1943 and was again unreliable when first used. A bit like all new weapons!
            As for operation Citadel the losses were huge but the Panzer IV bore the brunt of the action because the new Tiger and Panther were just not available in sufficient numbers. As we have read on here many times quantity has a quality all of its own.
            Bearing in mind the T34 was improved as the T34/85 it is by some margin the best all round tank of WW2. Not only that but more were produced in 2 months throughout 1943 than the entire Tiger I and II production run.
            That Uncle Joe killed millions of his own people is something I am aware and like you said the Baltic states, Ukrainians, Tartars and others can all pay testament to his care.
            I appreciate that the Waffen SS grew into huge part of the German military machine and they were in part separate from the Werhmacht.
            However, my point about the Waffen SS is that their killing did not just stop at indiscriminate butchery of those deemed sub humans on the eastern front but of British and French POWs in April 1940, French civilians in 1944 to name just two instances. These were either shot, bayonetted or killed with grenades.
            These are not the actions of soldiers as most would understand or what we glibly call the rules of war. That Finns, Croats, French and the other nations you mention volunteered to join just goes to prove that among all nations there was and remain a small number of people that have little regard for common human decency.
            That ordinary men will fight for their country is understood but the words brave, honour or even soldier should not be used to describe them as in my opinion it denigrates those who did their best in adversity but managed to remain part of the human race.
            Great to discuss and all the best

          • Ah! Much more like it. Thanks for the ribbing.

            There I was thinking I was speaking to someone with little knowledge of the subject making dismissive, ignorant remarks!

            How wrong I was.

            Manstein at Demyansk? I think you may be thinking of the counter offensive before Kharkov in February 43. Yes he proposed an “elastic defence” against the Soviets, and indeed advised NATO.

            As far as Tanks goes I think both our general statements need to be taken into context depending at what timeframe we are talking of. My comment was based mainly from early 43 on and indeed did not consider the lighter PZIII and PIV as by then firepower was needed more than mobility.

            “Panzers IVs mainly F1 and 2s (I think) of 41/42 were outgunned by the T34. Both the Tiger and Panther came later and the latter to counter the T34”

            Accepted. Panther being a part copy I believe. My counter to that would be with the Blitzkrieg tactics of the Germans by massing their tanks at the point of main effort and better training and tactics made up for that. And that many of the Soviet tanks at that stage were still obsolete light tanks, not the T34’s, that even the PzIII could easily handle. The Soviets were still clumsy in their handling until 1943 when they got their act together, and Stalin started to trust his commanders and reward the army rather than supress it ( counter to Hitler )

            “The Tiger was too heavy, limited in range, difficult to transport, expensive to manufacture, over engineered and was very unreliable when first introduced. It numbers were far too few to make any difference.”

            Again accepted. I would add that, being fans of mobility, Tiger was not ideal for fast moving thrusts nor popular with the Panzer commanders I read. Again though, I would counter slightly by suggesting that as the war turned against them Tiger was fine as a defensive tank picking T34 off at longer ranges as the massed Red Army advanced, as mobility was no longer as vital as it once was.

            Kursk was actually the greatest F*** up of German arms as they turned their blitzkrieg on its head and battered themselves against the points of strongest resistance rather than the weakest points.

            The rarely mentioned Panzerjager ( Tank Hunters ) were actually produced in greater numbers than the tanks, and were often used in their stead.

            Agree that all round the T34/85 was the best tank of the war.

            War Crimes in the west. You refer to Le Paradis and Oudour Sur Glane I believe. Agreed. Reprisals against stubborn Brits and then French civilians after Das Reich was ambushed by the resistance en route to Normandy.

            I take your points on soldiering. I don’t agree with all of what you say but respect your view.


        • Daniel, not sure If I’m actually replying to your Russia post as there is no “Reply” icon under it but, Well done, That’s pretty much how I see it too. T34’s had Wide Tracks to cope better with the Winter conditions and their very Rugged but basic design together with a half decent gun gave then certain advantages especially in such large numbers. Just like the Sherman really, Not the Best but the best we had that could be produced in Large Numbers.

        • If the German army had succeeded in killing Hitler, the generals would have gained control of strategy and tactics, and could have results in very different outcome for the war on both fronts. Hitler was the worst enemy for the Germans.

          • Germany with our without Hitler couldn’t even hold the allies. The combined weight of the US, Soviets and British Empire was enormous and when fully mobilised there was only going to be one outcome. It was purely a case of not if but when were they going to be crushed. The German generals knew that and would have sued for peace earlier.

    • German high readiness. When it is 13-25 degrees Celsius. No rain. No night. No rivers to cross. No opposing seriously armed and dangers enemies. No ATGM against their glass jawed leopard 2s. Did you hear ISIS took out an entire squadron of Leopard 2s belonging to the Turkish army in Syria. 16 tanks chopped up by RPGs, ATGM. Challenger 2 meanwhile hit by 16 such weapons in Iraq and still able to be recovered patched up and sent back out within 24hrs.
      Have the Germans got ammo for their guns?

      • Have you got a link to the story behind what happened with the leopards? Everything I read indicated they were very effective and on par with the best, but paper stats mean nothing when the shooting starts.

        • Widely reported by James defence website at the time. Poor handling admittedly by the Turkish army who parked the Leopard 2s on a hill silhouetted against the sky. The ISIS fighters left the town below the hill in a ragtag group disguised as refugees. Got to within 200m of the Leopards, on their flanks then poured out of their vehicles and fired a very large number of RPG and ATGM at the Turkish Leopard 2s. Resulting in total losses.
          Bad handling, bad depolyment, bad tactics, lack of interlocking fire support. Lack of screening infantry and IFVs, but does not change the fact the leopard 2s were easily destroyed.

          • Or the fact that the Turks are using the A4 version of the L2 which is over 20yrs old, the German Army has the A7 version and the C2 in Iraq had armour upgrades so hardly a comparison

  4. Interesting. I thought the ARRC was the high readiness unit of NATO, with the UK as framework nation.

    Maybe I’m behind the times!

  5. Is It possible to suggest Defence related Gaffes that could be posted here ?
    Today on MSN, for Example. A Daily Mirror post rather proudly says, “BBC Gaffe shows May In WW2 Jet”. so when you click on it, It then says “May to fly to Brussels in WW2 Bombers”, with a video of 9 Spitfires possibly Hurricanes. It’s a case of the Blind leading the Blind yet again. How much do these people get paid to write such remarkably inaccurate Articles and just what are they teaching at Schools nowadays ?
    Sorry If this is off topic but I’m sure It would be a popular thread here.

  6. Hi folks hope are all well.
    Good comments Daniele, I also have good reading of the second world war and agree with both of your comments regarding Germany and Russia in that period. However we do have an issue with current German hardware, which is of concern. A recent article on this site made reference to a French and German military alliance, which does question how? My concern is there is a possibility of minds being taken of the ball and NATO having resources diverted to other commitments.
    All the best,

  7. Why is it that any article about the German Military today on this site ends up “re-enacting World War 2”. Germany ended up as the economic leader of Europe through shear hard work, after the devastation of WW2, it has moved on since then. Germany needs to spend more money and resources today on their NATO commitments, that we can all agree on. But that is not high priority with the German Politicians at the moment. Loans to Greece and re-building the former East German infrastructure …

  8. Interesting comments about Isis wiping out a squadron of Turkish Leopard 2s. The British Challenger 2 coming under a similar level of attack in Iraq would have had the chobham armour against which the majority of Isis weapons would be useless against. In fact I do believe the only Challenger tank ever taken out was a friendly fire mistake by another Challenger. I understand that Britain and US are very selective about who they allow to have chobham armour and without it most modern tanks are no better defended than a WW2 Tiger.


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