The concept of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps was initiated by the NATO Defence Planning Committee in May 1991. The concept called for the creation of Rapid Reaction Forces to meet the requirements of future challenges within the alliance. The ARRC provides the Supreme Allied Commander Europe with a multinational corps sized grouping in which forward elements can be ready to deploy within 14 days (lead elements and recce parties at very short notice).

As stated by SHAPE the mission of the ARRC is:

“HQ ARRC, as a High Readiness Force (Land) HQ, is prepared to deploy under NATO, EU or coalition auspices to a designated area, to undertake combined and joint operations across the operational spectrum as:

  • a Corps HQ

  • a Land Component HQ

  • a Land Component HQ in command of the NATO Response Force

  • a Joint Task Force HQ for Land-centric operations

These formations will enable support crisis support management options or the sustainment of ongoing operations.”

Currently the ARRC trains for missions across the spectrum of operations from deterrence and crisis management to regional conflict. Currently (late 2010) Headquarters ARRC is located at Innsworth (UK), with a peace-time establishment of about 400 personnel. It comprises staff from all the contributing nations. As the Framework Nation, the UK provides the infrastructure, administrative support, communications and 60 per cent of the staff.

The Commander (COMARRC) and Chief of Staff are UK 3 Star and 2 Star Generals and the Deputy Commander is an Italian 2 Star General. The other appointments, as with the training and exercise costs, are shared among the contributing nations.

Outline Composition of the ARRC (Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps)

For operations HQ ARRC might have some of the following formations under command:

The operational organisation, composition and size of the ARRC would depend on the type of crisis, area of crisis, its political significance, and the capabilities and availability of lift assets, the distances to be covered and the infrastructure capabilities of the nation receiving assistance. It is considered that a four division ARRC would be the maximum employment structure.

Command Posts and Deployment

Due to the need to be able to respond flexibly to the whole range of potential operations, HQ ARRC has developed the capability for rapidly deployable and modular HQs. Deployment begins with the despatch of a Forward Liaison and Reconnaissance Group (FLRG) within 48 hours of the order being given which can then be quickly followed up.

Within four days the key enablers from 1 (UK) Signal Bde would be within theatre and three days later HQ ARRC Forward and HQ Rear Support Command (RSC) Forward – as required - could be established. The forward-deployed HQs are light, mobile and C-130 transportable. While there is a standard ‘default’ setting for personnel numbers, the actual staff composition is ‘tailored’ to the task and can vary from approximately 50 to 150 staff, depending on the requirement. The ‘in-theatre’ task would then be supported by the remainder of the staff, using sophisticated ‘Reachback’ techniques and equipment.

The Early Entry HQs are capable of sustained independent operations if required but can also be used as enablers if it is decided to deploy the full HQ ARRC. This deployment concept has been tested and evaluated on several exercises and has proven its worth. In parallel, HQ ARRC is continuously looking to make all of its HQs lighter and more survivable.