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Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (NATO)

The Allied Rapid Reaction Corps has been declared ‘combat ready’ after passing their combat readiness evaluation or CREVAL. The ARRC was presented with NATO’s new ‘warfighting guidon’, which it will hold throughout its tenure as NATO’s War Fighting Corps at readiness until January 2022. This certification followed more than nine months of evaluation by Allied Land Command, with the final field assessment phase during exercise Loyal Leda 2020 in the U.K. This computer aided exercise involved over 1000 ARRC personnel and key enablers from 21 nations, with wider collaboration from military units and civilian organisations across Europe and North America. CREVAL assures the Alliance that ARRC operates to NATO standards and can work alongside other NATO nations, with multinational Divisions and up to 120,000 troops under command.

Notably, the ARRC is supporting Romania’s Multi-National Corps - South East (MNC-SE), who were involved in the exercise, reach interim operational capability by December 2021 and will hand over the War Fighting Corps guidon and readiness responsibility to NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Spain (NRDC-ESP) in January 2022.

HQ ARRC is to be prepared to deploy: As a Corps HQ, As a Land Component HQ, As a Theatre-level Joint Task Force HQ. In order to meet NATO, EU, national or multi-national requirements. Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC) provides NATO with a rapidly deployable, flexible HQ that can act as a Joint, Land or Corps HQ for operations and crisis response. Its multi-national ethos, combination of cultures and innovation, strong professional reputation in NATO and proven track record in interoperability are unique among its High Readiness Force (Land) (HRF(L)) peers.

2017 marked the 25th anniversary as HQ ARRC and 200th Anniversary of its antecedent, 1st (British) Corps. Throughout its history the Corps has played a key role in international events. It began its journey fighting under Wellington at Waterloo. In the First World War it fought in France and Belgium, and in the Second World War it was responsible for two of the D-Day beachheads and a number of airborne assaults, as part of the Allied re-entry into Europe. Throughout the Cold War 1 (BR) Corps was the UK’s contribution to NATO’s defence against the Soviet Union.

With the end of the Cold War, HQ ARRC emerged as the first NATO Rapid Reaction Land Force Headquarters. Such was the success of the structure developed by ARRC, in 2002 it was used as the model for the development of other HRF(L) Headquarters. From 1994 until 2010, the ARRC was based in Rheindahlen, Germany. In 2010 the ARRC moved to its current location at, Imjin Barracks, Gloucester.

In line with its operational ethos, ARRC commanded the Land element of NATO's first ever deployment as part of the Implementation Force (IFOR) operation in Bosnia in 1995. It deployed again as the headquarters commanding Land Forces during the Kosovo War in 1999. Other operations have included the formation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in 2006 and as ISAF Joint Command in 2011.

Today, the ARRC is the UK’s largest deployable Land HQ. It remains the UK’s contribution to NATO’s HRF(L) structure and is unique amongst all other HRF(L)s by falling under the direct Operational Command of Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) during peacetime. Although HQ ARRC’s ‘framework nation’ is the United Kingdom, comprising approximately sixty percent of the overall staff, the ARRC is fully multinational in nature and organisation, with twenty-one NATO and Partner Nations overall contributing personnel. A number of other nations will become part of the ARRC before the end of 2017.

Although having no permanently assigned formations, HQ ARRC typically maintains operational and training affiliations with a number of NATO member-state army divisions at any given time.

Prior to building a new NATO command structure the Allies had already established as part of the new force structure a number of High Readiness Forces (Land) headquarters modelled on the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) and supplemented by other headquarters at lower readiness. These deployable headquarters can command and control forces from the size of a brigade numbering thousands of troops up to a corps of tens of thousands.

The majority of deployable forces are held at high readiness to support both collective defence Alliance-wide and crisis response operations wherever they might occur. The multinational deployable forces are commanded by air, land, maritime and special operations forces headquarters provided by a framework nation or number of nations working in concert. Force packages are built around these headquarters dependent upon the task. These deployable headquarters can command and control forces from the size of a brigade numbering thousands of troops up to a corps of tens of thousands, aircraft to deliver hundreds of sorties per day, or maritime task forces of varying size dependent upon the task.

In addition to HQ ARRC, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) has eight other Graduated Readiness Forces (Land) Headquarters under Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) operational command. Several of these headquarters have taken turns in the past commanding the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and also take turns providing the 12-month rotating Land Component Command (LCC) or Joint Task Force (JTF) headquarters of the NATO Response Force (NRF).

There are five High Readiness Forces (Maritime) headquarters that can command and control assigned forces up to the level of a NATO naval task force made up of dozens of warships. Each headquarters provides the Maritime Component Command (MCC) for the NRF on a rotational basis. Additionally there are three deployable High Readiness Forces (Air) headquarters provided by the United Kingdom, France and Germany, which also provide the Air Component Command (ACC) for the NRF on a rotational basis.

Since its creation in 1992 the ARRC has deployed four separate times on real-world operations. The first came under Lieutenant General Walker with the implementation of the Dayton Agreement of 22 November 1995, bringing an end to the civil war in Bosnia; it also happened to be NATOs first out of area operation. The Implementation Force (IFOR) used the ARRC to act as headquarters to three multinational divisions who had responsibility for a 180-kilometer long ceasefire line and ensured compliance amongst the warring factions with the 'zones of separation' and 'cantonment' of forces.

The ARRC's second deployment came in 1999 under Lieutenant General Jackson as a result of deteriorating conditions in Kosovo. Five brigades from France, Germany, Italy, the United States and Britain were initially allocated to the ARRC as part of Kosovo Force (KFOR) with Britain later adding a second brigade. The ARRC in KFOR was unusual in having no intermediary divisional headquarters. When Serbian leadership finally backed down in Kosovo, the ARRC turned its attention toward instituting order and maintaining a safe and secure environment, which continues to be the primary focus today for the current KFOR mission.

The post-911 era has seen the ARRC deploy twice more, both to Afghanistan. The involvement of the ARRC in assuming responsibility for the headquarters of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in 2006 under Lieutenant General Richards brought with it new NATO 'firsts'. It was the first time a single headquarters ran all the sectors of Afghanistan (through Regional Commands). It was also the first time since the Second World War that a sizeable contingent of United States forces (45,000) came under a non-American commander in a time of war. It was also the first time that NATO fought a combined arms battle when it attacked the entrenched Taliban position south of Kandahar. The ARRC redeployed in early 2007, but deployed for the fourth time in 2011 where 200 of its members supplemented the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) for a period ranging from six to 12 months.

In 2017 the ARRC was tasked with responsibility for the land component of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and played an integral part in one of NATO's capstone exercises, Exercise NOBLE JUMP 2017, which saw for the first time Allied troops deploying by land, air and sea to NATO's periphery in Romania. The ARRC relinquished it responsibilities as the land component of the NRF on 10 January 2018 to NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Italy. When not in role as the NRF, the ARRC may be required to mobilise to assist the standing NRF thus becoming an intermediary headquarters. NATO's long term formation rotation plan allows headquarters like the ARRC to prepare and remain focused. Through a tough and regimented training schedule, it is no surprise, then, that today's ARRC, like the British 1st Corps that came before it, is the tip of the spear in the realm of corps warfighting.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 15:34:16 ZULU