Rapid Deployable Corps
NATO’s Rapid Deployable Corps are High Readiness Force Headquarters, which can be quickly dispatched to lead NATO troops on missions within or beyond the territory of NATO member states.
Troops from Rapid Reaction Corps France test their rapid deployment capabilities during exercise Citadel Leopard in Lille, France.
- NATO’s Rapid Deployable Corps can be deployed for a wide range of missions: from disaster management and peace support to counter-terrorism and high-intensity war fighting.
- There are currently nine NATO Rapid Deployable Corps, which are each capable of commanding up to 60,000 soldiers.
- The political authorisation of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political decision-making body, is required to deploy the corps.
The Rapid Deployable Corps can be deployed for a wide range of missions: from disaster management 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.
The general requirement for High Readiness Force Headquarters is to be ready to deploy its first elements within ten days and the entire force within two months.
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 NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy, the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Türkiye, Eurocorps and 1st German-Netherlands Corps have also commanded ISAF. In addition, ARRC and Eurocorps played an important role in NATO’s operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia.
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.
The corps are multinational, but are sponsored and paid for 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 Türkiye have sponsored the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Türkiye, 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. Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain are the Eurocorps framework nations.
The corps are open to personnel contributions from all the other NATO members and several Allies 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 (SACEUR). The political authorisation of the North Atlantic Council – 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 consensus decision between all NATO Allies. 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 and three others were established in 2005 and 2006, reaching a total of eight High Readiness Force Headquarters.
- 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 Türkiye (NRDC-T) based near Istanbul;
- the 1st 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) in Szczecin, Poland, which has a specific regional mission in the northeast of the Alliance.
In addition, Eurocorps, based in Strasbourg, France, has a technical agreement with NATO since 2002 and can be used for NATO missions.