The Rapid Deployable Corps
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.
The corps can be deployed for a wide range of missions: from disaster management, humanitarian assistance and peace support to counterterrorism and high-intensity warfighting. 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 six NATO Rapid Deployable Corps, which are each capable of commanding up to 60,000 soldiers.
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 10 days and the entire force within two months.
On Stand-by Readiness
The corps participate in the NATO Response Force (NRF)- a highly ready and technologically advanced force made up of land, air, sea, and special 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 twelve-month period, during which it is on stand-by readiness. This means that the headquarters must be able to deploy on short notice. Prior to this, the corps undergo an intense six-month training programme, which tests its procedures for planning and conducting combined joint crisis response operations.
The corps also play a central role in NATO’s ongoing operations. The Spanish corps commanded the land elements of the NATO Response Force 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, which is deployed in Afghanistan under NATO’s lead and a UN mandate to assist the Afghan government in providing stability and security for its citizens. The Rapid Deployable Corps – Italy, the Rapid Deployable Corps - Turkey, Eurocorps, and the Rapid Deployable German-Netherlands Corps have also commanded ISAF. In addition, ARRC and Eurocorps played an important role in NATO’s operations in Bosnia, 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 and demanding challenges of a rapid deployment into various operational environments.
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.
Britain is the framework nation of the ARRC, while Italy, Spain, and Turkey have sponsored the Rapid Deployable Corps - Italy, Spain and Turkey, respectively. Germany and the Netherlands share costs for the German-Netherlands Rapid Deployable Corps, while Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain are framework nations of the Eurocorps.
The Corps are open to personnel contributions from all the other NATO nations and several nations participate within each Rapid Deployable Corps.
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. Political authorisation to use the corps requires the political authorisation of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal decision-making body, 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.
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.
These are: the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps – Italy (NRDC-IT) in Solbiate Olana near Milan, Italy; the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps – Spain (NRDC-Spain) in Valencia, Spain; the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps – Turkey (NRDC-T) based near Istanbul, Turkey; and the Rapid Deployable German-Netherlands Corps based in Münster, Germany.
In addition to this, since 2002 the Eurocorps, based in Strasbourg, France , has a technical agreement with NATO and can be used for NATO missions.