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1 German/Netherlands Corps

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, rapid and far-reaching changes have led to adjustments to the European security policy. On the initiative of the Netherlands, the Dutch and German defence ministers decided in 1991 to establish the First German-Netherlands Corps.

As a result of troop reductions, a German Corps and a Dutch Corps amalgamated into one binational Corps. With the signing of the three documents in which the actual co-operation was laid down in great detail, the foundation was laid for the inauguration of the First German-Netherlands Corps. The inauguration ceremony took place on 30 August 1995, in the presence of the Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok and the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The Dutch Lieutenant General Ruurd Reitsma became the first commander of this Corps and the German Major General Dr. Gnter Freiherr von Steinaecker was appointed deputy commander.

For the first time in European history, two existing corps headquarters amalgamated. Within the new Corps Headquarters, a balanced mixture of German and Dutch personnel manned all ranks and divisions. The fact that a superior officer commands troops from another country already in peacetime, is unique.

About 50 years after the end of the Second World War, the Netherlands and Germany are breaking new ground by working closely together and demonstrating their motto 'Communitate Valemus' (together we are strong). Mnster, the place where the Peace of Westphalia was concluded in 1648, was intentionally chosen as seat of the Corps, because it is an important city in the history of both nations. The tasks of the First German-Netherlands Corps include the following: defend NATO territory as unit of the NATO Main Defence Forces; conduct peace operations, operations under the auspices of the UN, as well as humanitarian missions and carry out national tasks, for instance disaster relief during floods.

After the inauguration of the First German-Netherlands Corps, another task was added: since 1997 the Corps HQ is available to the West-European Union on request. Besides, since December 1999 the Corps HQ can be deployed as Land Component Command.

Tasked to prepare for a NATO High Readiness Force Headquarters (HRF HQ) role in 1999, the Corps started the process of transition into a multinational organisation in close co-ordination with the NATO Regional Headquarters North based at Brunssum in the Netherlands. In November 2002, the Corps met NATO Full Operational Capability (FOC) criteria and was certified to act as a High Readiness Force Headquarters capable of rapid deployment within 20 - 30 days as part of a NATO Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF).

The deployment to Afghanistan as HQ ISAF between February and August 2003 was the litmus test for previous conceptual work. Prior to the deployment of 1 (GE/NL) Corps the ISAF mission had been led by a single nation. For the first time, Germany and the Netherlands executed bi-national command and control using procedures derived from the High Readiness Force concept, and subsequently developed further in co-operation with NATO. This provided the essential foundations to create the platform for ISAF to transition into a NATO led mission.

After gaining experience of exercising multinational command and control in peacetime training and on operations across the spectrum of conflict (ranging from humanitarian and peace support operations up to high-intensity conflict), the next step was to further develop as a Land Component Command (LCC) Headquarters as part of the emerging NATO Response Force (NRF) concept. Following NATO Force Generation in late 2003, internal preparation began in early 2004 and 1 (GE/NL) Corps was subordinated for one year to the NATO Joint Forces Command in Naples. With some 9,000 soldiers from 16 NATO nations assigned to the Corps, certification as a NATO Response Force Headquarters was successfully completed in November 2004. From January to July 2005, 1 (GE/NL) Corps assumed the standby role as the NATO Response Force Land Component Command to demonstrate the NATO Initial Operational Capability. During the months of May and June 2005, 1 (GE/NL) Corps practiced this capability by conducting Exercise IRON SWORD, a challenging Deployment / Field Training Exercise to practice multinational operations in an expeditionary environment. In deploying more than 6,000 soldiers and 2,500 vehicles by land, air and sea from Central Europe to Norway, 1 (GE/NL) Corps has clearly illustrated the progress made during the NATO Response Force standby period and has made a real contribution towards the continual development of the NATO Response Force Full Operational Capability.

In 2006 the Corps' main emphasis was to continue the enhancement of its capabilities through a series of intensive training and exercises, aimed at broadening experience across the spectrum of tasks it may be called upon to command. The year 2007 focused mainly on intensive preparation for the next NATO Response Force standby period starting in January 2008.

1 (GE/NL) Corps will continue to concentrate on preparing for operations. In doing so, the aim is to continuously enhance NATO's capability to act in dealing with global security challenges and threats to stability. By further deepening military integration at the German-Dutch, NATO and European Union levels, 1 (GE/NL) Corps will continue to be at the head of this transformation process.




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