Response Force Task Group
|Response Force Task Group|
HMS Bulwark, flagship of the RFTG
|Role||Direct Fleet Operations|
|Part of||United Kingdom Task Group (UKTG)|
|Garrison/HQ||Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth (Staff HQ)|
|Commodore John Kingwell|
The Response Force Task Group is a new initiative announced in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and is the heart of the UK’s maritime contingent capability, held at very high readiness to respond to unexpected global events.[dead link] It highlights the enduring need for the armed forces to plan and train for unforeseen events that may occur in parallel with the defence main effort of current operations. The RFTG will be poised to respond to short-notice tasking across a diverse range of defence activities such as non-combatant evacuation operations, disaster relief, humanitarian aid or amphibious operations. This deployment is not linked to events in Libya which involve other elements of the UK Armed Forces.
"With the sailing of this second group, the Response Force Task Group is at full strength, and is ideally suited to respond to the uncertainties and instabilities that currently feature on the international landscape. This Task Group can operate at sea and in the air, and we will now commence a series of exercises to test versatility of this multi-role force."
In April 2011, the ships and their embarked Royal Marines were deployed on their first deployment named 'COUGAR 11'[dead link] to develop and demonstrate contingent capability for UK defence - in effect, the ability to respond to short-notice tasking across a diverse range of defence activities such as disaster relief, humanitarian aid or amphibious operations. The lead elements of COUGAR 11 were HMS Albion, RFA Cardigan Bay and HMS Sutherland.[dead link] Follow-on ships were HMS Ocean, RFA Wave Knight, RFA Mounts Bay and RFA Fort Rosalie.[dead link] The deployment of the task force under 'COUGAR 11' saw them transit through the Mediterranean where they will take part in multinational amphibious exercises before moving further east through the Suez Canal for further exercises in the Indian Ocean.
The RFTG has been involved in Exercise Cypriot Lion as part of their 'COUGAR 11' deployment. During this exercise, Elements of HQ 3 Commando Brigade and a detachment from 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps were also attached to the COUGAR 11 deployment.[dead link][dead link] British Army Apache attack helicopters fired Hellfire missiles for the first time whilst flying from a Royal Navy warship. On Monday 9 May on the way to Cyprus, 7 Senior Non-Commissioned Officers and the Officer Commanding the Support Troop from 6 Assault Squadron Royal Marines on HMS Albion held a service of remembrance at the Souda Bay Commonwealth Grave site in Crete to pay tribute to their fallen colleagues to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bitter battle for the island. The Viking armoured vehicles attached to the group also practiced amphibious landings.
On May 26, 2011, the COUGAR 11 deployment began a joint UK-Albanian military exercise, code-named 'Albanian Lion'. This is the first major joint operation between the UK and Albanian armed forces since Albania joined NATO in 2009.
On the June 3, 2011, five vessels of the Response Force Task Group temporarily withdrew from COUGAR 11 and were deployed (an RFTG ship, HMS Ocean, and her embarked Apache attack helicopters had been deployed days earlier) to supplement UK forces in Operation Ellamy/Operation Unified Protector.
By late June 2011, the COUGAR 11 task group had passed through the Suez Canal and begun Operation Red Alligator, a major maritime security and anti-piracy exercise in the Red Sea with the Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia.
Future operations 
The COUGAR 12 exercise will see the RFTG deploy to the Mediterranean in early October 2012, to work with elements of the French Navy's Task Force 473, the FS Charles De Gaulle carrier battle group. The purpose of the deployment will be to further co-operation between the two task groups with a focus on amphibious operations. The deployment will involve HMS Bulwark, HMS Illustrious, HMS Northumberland, HMS Montrose, RFA Mounts Bay and 45 Cdo RM, who are expected to return home by the end of 2012.
- Surface (Royal Navy)
- Surface (Royal Fleet Auxiliary)
- 'A' Company, 'C' Company (Spartans), 'D' Company and Signal Troop, 40 Commando Royal Marines[dead link][dead link]
- 539 Assault Squadron, Royal Marines
- 6 Assault Squadron in Albion[dead link]
- Armoured Support Group, Royal Marines
- Logistic Task Group
- Landing Force Support Party, Commando Logistic Regiment/ 17 Port and Maritime Regiment
See also 
- Precise Media Planner, Joint UK-Albanian military exercise 'Albanian Lion' begins, Precise Media Planner, May 26, 2011
- "Response Force Task Group". Homeport Magazine. Autumn 2012. p. 10.