General Denis Mercier, Chief of Staff French Air Force, hosted a comprehensive one day meeting of over 40 delegates from 16 nations on 28.04.2014.
The NATO TIGER ASSOCIATION and its annual NATO TIGER MEET have been highly successful over the last decade. The NTMs have grown in complexity, intensity and are the largest air exercise each year in Europe since 2009 The NTMs stand for high quality training every year and the best value for money invested. The Tigers have won a good reputation in many HQs and continue to attract new members. But times and conditions always change and resting on one’s laurels means stagnation and falling back. To stay ahead the Tiger leaders saw the need for reflection, discussion and decisions on the path into future.
The 3 advisers prepared and the Commanding Officers of 21 Tiger Squadrons (out of 24 full and probationary member squadrons overall) convened for this focused Symposium, the first in the 54-years history of this Community. The assembly of COs and sqn mbrs was augmented by senior officers with Tiger backgrounds, which added their expertise to the discussions.
The Tiger Assembly was welcomed and given guidance in his opening address by five-star General Denis Mercier, himself once Squadron Commander of the famous Escadron de Chasse 01.12 Cambresis and now one of the 3 NTA advisers.
In his address he emphasized the importance of the coherence of the Tiger Squadrons and added: “It is necessary to identify the areas of improvement and specify the individual needs of the participating squadrons. New challenges and budget cuts need the famous tiger spirit to overcome arising difficulties. Excellent training and continuous reflection will play the key role in the future of this exercise.”
Each session of the Symposium was chaired by one of the 4 Tiger Council members, “Kicker” of 338 sq, “Nobby” of 51, “Bo” of 313 and “Pino” of 31. Presentations were given by “Gyro” of 211 and “GD” of 1/7.
The assembly decided to stay with, and even expand the current NTM formula of two weeks and two waves per day; i.e., the COMAO/LFE wave will train combat scenarios with multiple aircraft and roles and is the primary goal. The shadow wave will remain dedicated to unit training with or against any of the others; this is a special NTM feature not available in other exercises. To enhance even further, more joint training, more EW, better integration of AWACS and Helis, more SAM threats, and more advanced Red Air threats is intended.
It was agreed that current size of the NTM and the NTA is just about right. Basing, airspace, organization and finances are driving factors for NTM size and hosting. To overcome limitations and increase the number of potential hosting units, options such as base and airspace sharing were explored.
Addressing the idea to include non-tiger units in NTMs, the representatives agreed to allow Tiger units to include augmentees from other sqns if desired.
Coherence of this unique military community, the so called Tiger-Spirit since 1961, was confirmed as the core value which underpins the success and longevity of the NATO Tigers.