NATO Trains from Volkel for A Nuclear Mission
(Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence; issued Oct. 16, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
A rare combination of NATO fighters, including Dutch F-16 and F-35As together with French Rafale M, seen during a previous international air force exercise over the North Sea earlier this year. (RNLAF file photo)
NATO has been practicing flights for possible nuclear deployment since this week. The exercise will take place from Volkel Air Base and around 50 aircraft from different allies will participate.

Today, Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, Minister Ank Bijleveld, Commander of NATO forces in Europe Tod Wolters and Commander of the Armed Forces Rob Bauer attended the exercise.

This is a regular exercise that takes place annually over Western Europe and the North Sea. The exercise is therefore independent of current developments. It is the first time that NATO has announced the nature of such an exercise. This is also in line with the Netherlands' aim for more transparency.

Working together well and efficiently

Bijleveld: “Today, together with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, I saw how the Allied armed forces ensure that they can continue to operate well and efficiently together. The exercise also shows the solidarity between the allies. In this they protect each other with the available capacities. In these times of increasing threat and instability, this is of great importance.”

Keeping NATO's nuclear deterrent safe, effective and credible requires regular practice. That is what also happened today. The ultimate goal of the nuclear deterrent and NATO exercise is to maintain peace and stability.

Dedicated to a world without nuclear weapons

Stoltenberg emphasized NATO's defensive nature. But he stated that NATO must also be prepared for all possible threats. According to him, the alliance continues to strive for a world without nuclear weapons. But as long as there are nuclear weapons, the alliance remains a defensive and a nuclear alliance and nuclear weapons are part of the deterrent.

In that context, he spoke with Minister Bijleveld about the Defense Vision 2035, which was presented yesterday.

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Secretary General Visits Dutch Airbase Hosting NATO Deterrence Exercise
(Source: NATO; issued Oct 16, 2020)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attended NATO’s annual nuclear exercise at Volkel airbase in the Netherlands on 16 October 2020 alongside Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld as well as NATO’s top military commander, General Tod Wolters.

“This exercise is an important test for the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent,” the Secretary General said. “It is a routine, defensive exercise. And it is not directed against any country. The purpose of NATO’s nuclear deterrent is not to provoke a conflict but to preserve peace, deter aggression and prevent coercion. In an increasingly uncertain world, our nuclear forces continue to play an important role in our collective defence,” he added.

This exercise is long-planned and is not linked to any current world events. With more than 50 aircraft from across the alliance taking part, the exercise is hosted by a different NATO country each year. This year, training flights are taking place over parts of western Europe and the North Sea. Aircraft involved in the exercise do not carry live bombs.

At Volkel Airbase, Mr Stoltenberg spoke to aircrews and was briefed on the exercise scenario by the base commander. He also exchanged views with Defence Minister Bijleveld on the importance of NATO’s nuclear deterrence, stressing that at a time of evolving security challenges, it is essential that the Alliance remains protected by the full spectrum of capabilities, and promotes transparency over NATO activities to reduce risks of misunderstandings.

“Today’s exercise shows that Allies are determined to ensure that NATO's nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective,” the Secretary General said. At the same time, he added, “NATO aspires to a world without nuclear weapons. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has reduced the number of nuclear weapons in Europe by around 90%.

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