History 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 1(German/Netherlands) Corps.
As a result of troop reductions, a German Corps and a Dutch Corps amalgamated into one bi-national 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 1(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. Günter Freiherr von Steinäcker 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). Münster, 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 1(German/Netherlands) Corps included 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.
Tasked to prepare for a NATO High Readiness Force Headquarters (HRF HQ) role, the Corps started the process of transition into a multinational organisation. 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 in 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 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.
In 2007 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.
In January 2008 the Corps entered for the second time the six months lasting standby period as NATO’s Response Force Land Component Headquarters that ended in June by passing the NRF Flag to the French High Readiness Corps based in Lille/France.
With its high value exercise Leopard Sword in November 2008 in Baumholder/Germany the Corps regained the initiative in training and developing procedures as High readiness Force Headquarters. The scenario challenging the Corps as a Land Component Command in a peace support environment was provided by the Canadian Pearson Peace Keeping Centre and also served as starting point for upcoming missions.
2009 the Corps was involved for the second time in the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan (ISAF). Considerable numbers of HQ personnel formed the Composite Headquarters for ISAF and were deployed to Kabul/Afghanistan. While supporting ISAF HQ with manpower and expertise for a six months additional HQ personnel was serving abroad in missions under the auspices of national regulations.
Exercise Peregrine Sword was the main focus of the Corps in 2012. In September, around 6000 soldiers were deployed in the training area of Wildflecken (Germany). The focus of the exercise was on Air Operations and peace stabilisation operations. Moreover, the Comprehensive Approach, i.e. the cooperation between military and civilian organisations, was brought to a higher level during this exercise with the participation of 100 civilians.
In 2013, for the third time, the Corps provided personnel for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. For half a year, around 200 soldiers were deployed to the ISAF headquarters in Kabul. Their mission was to train, assist and support the Afghan Security Forces.
Since the redeployment of the soldiers at the beginning of 2014, HQ 1 (GE/NL) Corps has been fully engaged in preparations for its NATO Response Force (NRF) stand-by phase in 2015. In 2014, three major exercises were scheduled to prepare the Corps for its NRF stand-by period as a Land Component Command (LCC) in 2015. As LCC, 1 (GE/NL) Corps will lead the land operations of NRF 2015.
Also in 2014, the Corps is implementing LC2IS, a new CIS and information exchange system that will enable the Corps to exchange information with other NATO headquarters and to run NATO software. The Corps will participate in the continuous enhancement of NATO’s capability to act when 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 be ready for the future.
At the Wales Summit in september 2014, NATO Allies agreed to enhance the capabilities of the NATO Response Force (NRF) in order to respond to emerging security challenges posed by Russia as well as the risks emanating from the Middle East and North Africa. This force is now in transition as military staff work to phase in the concept of a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) into the overall NRF structure. First German/Netherlands Corps (Münster/DEU) took lead of the land forces.