International community says farewell to Allied Force Command Heidelberg

Article by Maj. Tamara Gonzales

Allied Air Command Ramstein

Hundreds of multi-national citizens and service members came together to bid farewell to Allied Force Command Heidelberg for the NATO Headquarters deactivation ceremony at Campbell Barracks, March 14.

“This headquarters and its demonstrated excellence will never be forgotten,” said Commander Allied Force Command Heidelberg Lt. Gen. John W. Morgan III. “I salute the members of Allied Force Command Heidelberg, and all the Heidelberg-based Land Headquarters, past and present who selflessly served this great Alliance and by doing so left an incredible, indelible mark on its history.”

Morgan, Commander Joint Force Command Brunssum, Gen. Hans-Lothar Domröse, and Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Defense, Rüdiger Wolf, served as guest speakers during the event.

Allied Force Command Heidelberg, currently a 20 NATO organization, has been part of the community since 1952. It started with a small Planning Staff within the USAREUR Headquarters. Since then, the headquarters has seen many changes including moving from Campbell Barracks to Hammond Barracks in Mannheim-Seckenheim in 1961 and returning to its home of Campbell Barracks in 1980.

The organization has also undergone several structural changes. In June 1993, it became operational as part of the Headquarters of NATO’s Allied Land Forces Central Europe (LANDCENT). In 2000 LANDCENT was formally designated as a Joint Headquarters–Centre (JHQ CENT) and four years later, JHQ CENT was designated as Component Command-Land Headquarters Heidelberg (CC-Land HQ HD). In 2008, the organization transitioned to an experimental Deployable Joint Staff Element (DJSE) structure and in 2010 the headquarters adopted its current name.

It was the members of FC HD that made it a success, enabling the headquarters to accomplish a myriad of operations and deployments. The JHQ CENT was the first NATO headquarters unit to respond after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, leading the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. From that point, the headquarters dedicated itself to supporting the ISAF mission for the next two years.

“The headquarters legacy will remain with us for many years to come,” said Germany Army Commander and Commander Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum Gen. Hans-Lothar Domröse.

“Heidelberg has set the bar particularly high,” said Domröse addressing that Land Command-Izmir is taking over responsibility as Allied Force Command Heidelberg and Allied Force Command -Madrid deactivates.

This was not the only deployment that the headquarters’ members devoted themselves to as they also deployed in support of Operation “Unified Protector” in Libya, to Sarajevo in support of the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) and the Stabilization Force (SFOR) and to Kosovo, assisting the Kosovo Security Force (KFOR).

“The history of land headquarters stationed in Heidelberg is also told in the many battle streamers attached to the colors. Those streamers represent the proud soldiers who lived and trained in Heidelberg, then deployed and fought for the Alliance,” said Morgan.

As part of the NATO Response Force (NRF), the organization stood ready to deploy on a moment’s notice if called upon by NATO as a collective-defense, crisis management or stabilization force. FC HD service members maintained this constant state of readiness through training and multiple exercises such as “Steadfast Jaguar” in 2006 and “Steadfast Juncture” in 2011.

The headquarters service members and families also had a great impact on the Heidelberg community being involved in community outreach programs, donating to the community and conducting a variety of events within the community.

“Military and civil members of the Heidelberg NATO community, together with the local U.S. community, greatly contribute to the international flair of this world-famous city,” said Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Defense Rüdiger Wolf. “Today, on the day of the closure ceremony, we can all look back on a history of more than 60 years of mission accomplishment, from defence to deterrence to peace support operations to stability operations.”

The deactivation is based on NATO’s decision in November 2011 to restructure its future command structure to pool its resources and create a leaner and more agile NATO command structure.