The Rapid Deployable Corps

Commanding NATO troops on missions wherever necessary

  • Last updated: 03 Oct. 2014 09:56

NATO’s Rapid Deployable Corps are High Readiness Headquarters, which can be quickly dispatched to lead NATO troops on missions within or beyond the territory of NATO member states.

Boarding a C-130 J

The corps can be deployed for a wide range of missions: from disaster management, humanitarian assistance and peace support to counter-terrorism and high-intensity war fighting. They can command and control forces from the size of a brigade numbering thousands of troops up to a corps of tens of thousands.

There are currently nine NATO Rapid Deployable Corps, which are each capable of commanding up to 60,000 soldiers.

  • Mission

    The Rapid Deployable Corps are an integral element of the ongoing efforts to transform NATO’s force structure and capabilities to meet 21st century security threats. Their key function is to provide NATO with deployable command elements, which can be dispatched quickly to lead troops wherever necessary.

    The general requirement for High Readiness Forces Headquarters is to be ready to deploy its first elements within ten days and the entire force within two months.

    On standby

    The corps participate in the NATO Response Force (NRF) - a highly ready and technologically advanced force made up of land, air, sea, and Special Operations Forces components that can be deployed at short notice to wherever needed. Under the NRF’s rotation system, a designated Rapid Deployable Corps assumes command of the land component of the NRF for a fixed 12-month period, during which it is on standby. This means that the headquarters must be able to deploy on short notice. Prior to this, the corps undergoes an intense six-month training programme, which tests its procedures for planning and conducting combined joint crisis-response operations.

    The various corps also play a central role in NATO’s ongoing operations. The Spanish corps commanded the land elements of the NRF that were deployed to Pakistan in late 2005 as part of NATO’s disaster assistance to the country following the devastating October 2005 earthquake. In 2006, the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) commanded the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF. The NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy, the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Turkey, Eurocorps and 1 German-Netherlands Corps have also commanded ISAF. In addition, ARRC and Eurocorps played an important role in NATO’s operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)1 and Kosovo.

    A broad spectrum of capabilities

    The Rapid Deployable Corps possess a broad spectrum of capabilities. Each corps has undergone an intense NATO operational evaluation programme in order to qualify as a NATO Rapid Deployable Headquarters. The headquarters have all had to demonstrate their capabilities in 50 areas, both in the barracks and in the field. This includes planning, logistics, administration, and command and control.

    This certification process is designed to ensure that the headquarters are capable of meeting the exacting challenges of a rapid deployment into various operational environments.

    1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.
  • Participants

    The corps are multinational, but are sponsored and paid by one or more ‘framework nations’ who provide the bulk of the headquarters’ personnel, equipment and financial resources.

    The United Kingdom is the framework nation of the ARRC, while France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey have sponsored the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps France, Greece Italy, Spain and Turkey, respectively. Germany and the Netherlands share costs for the German-Netherlands Rapid Deployable Corps, while Denmark, Germany and Poland are the three framework nations of the Multinational Corps Northeast and Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain are the Eurocorps framework nations.

    The corps are open to personnel contributions from all the other NATO nations and several nations participate within each Rapid Deployable Corps. 

  • Command structure

    All Rapid Deployable Corps Headquarters, except Eurocorps, belong to NATO’s integrated military structure. This means that they operate under the direct operational command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The political authorisation of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), NATO’s principal political decision-making body, is required to deploy the corps, and is given on a case-by-case basis as the result of a consensual decision between all of the 28 NATO nations. In addition, any commitment of the Eurocorps requires an exclusive decision of the member states Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain.
  • Evolution

    The Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), originally based in Rheindalen, Germany, but now in Innsworth, United Kingdom, was the first such corps, created in 1992. Following a review of NATO force structures, four more High Readiness Force Headquarters were established in 2002 and three other were established in 2005 and 2006 reaching the total of nine High Readiness Force Headquarters.

    These are: the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) in Innsworth, the United Kingdom; the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy (NRDC-IT) in Solbiate Olana near Milan; the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Spain (NRDC-Spain) in Valencia; the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Turkey (NRDC-T) based near Istanbul; the 1 German-Netherlands Corps based in Münster, Germany; the Rapid Reaction Corps France (RRC-FR) in Lille;·the NATO Deployable Corps Greece (NRDC-GR) based in Thessaloniki; and the Multinational Corps Northeast (MNC-NE) based in Szczecin, Poland.

    In addition, Eurocorps, based in Strasbourg, France, has a technical agreement with NATO since 2002 and can be used for NATO missions.