Text: Serge Van Heertum -  Pictures: Jean Dries - Archives: Coll Serge Van Heertum - Translation: Marc Arys     sbap 2018
 
Since the emergences of jet aircraft in the Belgian Air Force, squadrons have participated in numerous deployments, mainly within the frame of European exercises. The arrival of the F-16 allowed the authorities to consider distant deployments thanks to the air-air refueling capabilities.
At the beginning of the "90"s, the geopolitical situation in the Arabian countries changed and the Belgian Air Force was tasked with operational deployments in war zone. So it was that in 1991, the Air Force took part in the first Gulf War, operating its 3rd Tatical Wing Dassault Mirage V from the Turkish airbase at Dyarbakir. This was the starting point and due to the demonstrated qualities during these first operational tasks, Belgium was regularly tasked with other missions, like the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict in 1995, Kosovo in 1999 and since several years within the Arabian Peninsula (Afghanistan, Lybia, Iraq and Syria).
Our present page will not provide you with breathtaking dynamic pictures, but rather a souvenir album from an Air Force member who took part in various deployments. The task of this behind-the-scenes-operator was to prepare the encampments for the Belgian military, as we all know that a minimum of comfort and well-being is necessary for the troops' mind, whether during an exercise or during an operational mission. Before moving on to the pictures, which only purpose is to show you how professional the Air Force acts, it is good to know these handles about the Allied Command Mobile Force (AMF) and the Nato Response Force (NRF) deployments.

On the historical side, the quick reaction forces of NATO, from the AMF, created in 1960, on to the actual NRF, carried out a whole range of parts: to deter, defend and reassure with, since the end of the Cold War, a response mission to the ever growing crises.
High state of preparation, promptness, deployability and multinational participation have always characterized the quick reaction forces of NATO. Those are the characteristics which allow them to carry out these expeditionary operations on strategic distances from Europe and Northern America, as well as reinforcement operations within the zone of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
In 1960, NATO became interested for the first time in the idea of quick reaction forces, when the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of the time proposed to create a quickly deployable mobile force for its commandment, the Allied Commandment in Europe (CAE). To prevent any form of intimidation, coercion or aggression, or even a general war, against the allied countries located to the northern and southern flanks of the CAE. In peace-time, the military allied presence in those countries was narrowed down, even nonexistent, and the goal of the AMF was to project a multinational dissuasion capacity on short notice. National contributions to the AMF were organized as pre-planned multinational forces, optimized for a deployment to the five contingency zones of the force - Norway, the island of Sjaelland in Denmark, the North-East of Italy, Northern Greece, the Greek and Turkish Thrace and Eastern Turkey.
The planning and the exercises were supervised by a small multinational headquarter located in the German Federal Republic, but in real situation, the command and control of the deployed elements of the AMF were to fall under the local land and air commands of NATO to ensure an homogeneous integration of the local forces and the reinforcement forces.
With, on one hand, the evolution of Europe, becoming stepwise a continent marked by unity, freedom and peace, and on the other hand, the growing spectra of unpredictable crises developing rapidly into conflicts, as within the Balkan, the central axis of the quick reaction moved from the reinforcement of the interior zone of NATO on to responses to conflicts outside this zone. At a certain time, there were considerations to enlarge the size of the AMF forces from a brigade to a division to make it more resilient and responsive, but the era of the mobile Force had come to an end.

The quick reaction now demanded a more important military force, endowed with more capabilities, f.e. within the frame of difficult peace missions as the Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Kosovo in 1999.
Despite these new requirements, the AMF lived on until 2002, when it was disbanded.
From 2003, NRF was the concept supplying the Alliance with a quick reaction capacity of some 20.000 men per rotation, something never seen within NATO during the Cold War era. The gained experience during these successive rotations indicated that the concept of the NRF was well-founded and the dynamic of this change, generated by the creation of this Force, was rooted within all the military institutions throughout the Alliance.
On the other hand, the successive deployment of 4 headquarters (HQ) of the High Readiness Forces Land (HRF-L) to form a general headquarter of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, between 2004 and 2007, showed that the HQ could effectively use the competences of their forces in a real and difficult environment, giving the NRF the necessary experience in far-distance deployments.
Within the engagement context of the NATO, the primary mission of the NRF, is the response to crises within strategic range of Europe and Northern America. The main goal is to protect the essential security interests of the Alliance, to help to prevent that a crisis degenerates into conflict or to contribute to establish peace.
In any event, the specific unparalleled ability of the Alliance to plan and execute multinational expeditionary missions and to organize disparate means into one consistent force, will contribute to the hold of the heritage of the AMF within the NRF during the seventh decade of existence of the NATO and even beyond.

  
 (Coll Serge Van Heertum)
    
AMF Allied Mobile Forces Balikesir (Turkey) 1985
 
 High altitude to Turkey Arrival of the second aircraft
Material unloading A meeting with the 82nd Airborne
 
AMF Allied Mobile Forces Diyarbakir (Turkey) 1987
 
On the way to the deployment Assembly of the Belgian camp
   
AMF Allied Mobile Forces Balikesir (Turkey) 1988
 
Belgian camp Heavy work in the sun
Izmir Harbour with a part of the Turkish Navy fleet: The warship D359 is the TCG Peyk, a modified US Navy "Claud Jones-class" destroyer. The ship was commissioned on June 24th, 1975 and is still in service today Military parade in Balikezir City streets to commemorate the 
War against Greece in 1921-1922
 
AMF Allied Mobile Forces Villafranca (Italy) 1989
 
 Strange kind of fuselage... ;-) Lockheed F-104G from 132 Gruppo / 3 Stormo
  
It was the 3rd Wing from Bierset, note the old Renault 4L The material transported in containers
 
AMF Allied Mobile Forces Diyarbakir (Turkey) 1991
  

Preparing to leave Bierset airbase for the first War mission since the WWII
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
On taxi for take off early the morning of January 6th, 1991
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
One of the 18 Mirage during the fist Gulf War (Coll Serge Van Heertum) Patrols at the Iraqi border (Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 The Belgian material transported by 2 train from Diyarbakir to Iskenderun harbor to leave Turkey via a German Navy ship ...and what a kind of train! 
 
AMF Allied Mobile Forces Akishar (Turkey) 1992
 
 On the way to Turkey In the vicinity of Akishar
 Akishar city near the base
 The FA-26 on the parking with a old Turkish Air Force DC-3 Ready for the missions
  The 350 Squadron in 1992
 Couple of old F-100C : the 54-2100 and the 54-2022 Old fighters just near the Belgian camp
 Another North American F-100C, the 54-1756 Turkish mode shelter
 The flight line The FA-36 on taxi
 
AMF Allied Mobile Forces Erhac (Turkey) 1994
 
 Brindisi airbase after a fuel stop Brindisi industrial area with the petrol rafinery
 
 Kurdistan border Tohma bridge
 Downwind near Erhac Air Force Base Boztepe lake
 Starting the belgian camp installation
 The F-16's deployment Flying activities
 The camp The kitchen, a good meal is important for a good working spirit
 The sun sets on Erhac The Turkish Air Force F-4 line
 A C-130H is back, the dismantling will begin The Belgian F-16's flight line
  Soon the cargo will be well filled
 The 15th Transport Wing dedicate some "Hercules" for the material Loading
 Generator set returns to Belgium
Generally a minimum of two C-130Hs are required to transport all equipments Final loading
 Back to Belgium again...
 
RF Reaction Forces Air Zutendaal (Belgium) 1995 Training
 
 Heating and electricity are a necessary comfort especially in Belgium
 Protection of the electrical wires Aerial view of the camp to check if all is ok
 
 The deployment from 27 Sqn (EBKB) and 2 Sqn (EBFS) On duty
 The flight in action Aerial view of the F-16's parking
 FB-02 on taxi... ...followed by the FA-90 with 31 Sqn (EBKB) markings
 Zutendaal runway Zutendaal is a storage location and a reserve airfield
 All the storage hangar was in hand of the American Defense at that time Simply impressive from above
 
RF Reaction Forces Air Neubrandenburg "Common Energy" (Germany) 1996 Training
 
 En route for Northern Germany First part of the material is arrived
 The Belgian camp is coming up Former East German Air Force typical hangar
 Neubrandenburg became a Luftwaffe reserve airbase 
after the fall of the Berlin Wall
Some touch and go along the day
 Preparation of the camouflage net... ...and installation
 Hawker Siddeley HS.748-2A-228 (CS-01) from the 15th Wing... ...in good collaboration with the C-130's (CH-03 & CH-12)
 Unloading some more material... ...like a mobile generator
 Lockheed C-130H (CH-04) CH-04 was the last of the fleet to pass the new wing program
 Heavy deployment... ...also by road with this convoy just arrived
 No less than 12 F-16's deployed (10 aircraft on picture) Self F-16 engine as spare parts...
 Neubrandenburg gate guardian, a Luftwaffe Starfighter A former East German Air Force Mig-23MF Flogger 
as wreck somewhere on the base
 The device is in place and camouflaged The shelter doors system controlled by cable and winch. 
Clearly dangerous if the cable breaks
 Former East German army trucks abandonned on the base Three KRAZ-260 trucks and in middle a BM-21 (URAL 4320 Chassis)
 KRAZ-260 truck A lot of PRV-13 antenna trailer also abandonned on the base
DATF Deployable Air Task Force Amendola (Italy) 1998 & 1999
 
 The Belgo-Netherland camp Some more construction for the Belgian part
 The tents are ready The mobile shelter system
 The CH-08 at Amendola when the aircraft was in the active fleet Italian Air Force Piaggio PD-808
  Italian AMX-T 32-41 (32 Stormo)
 Italian AMX 32-86 Fiat G-91Y 32-13
 SIAI-Marchetti S208M Abandonned Fiat G91-T-1
 Some Amendola gate guard: De Havilland Vampire FB.52 Fiat G91-T-1
 Fiat G91-T-1: "L'ultimo Tango" (Right side)
 32 Stormo, 204 Gruppo Amendola, September 30th, 1995
 Fiat G91-T-1 special paint left side
 
A plane and a pilot are not enough to carry out the missions, think about the men and the women who work in the shade.   (Coll Serge Van Heertum)

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