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The NATO HQ battle: the first round is over. Still to be executed

meeting of NATO Defense Ministers (credit: NATO, June 8, 2011)

(BRUSSELS2) The plan adopted in Lisbon in November provided for the downsizing of a little less than half of NATO headquarters, without fixing the centers promised for closure. It is now done. Not without difficulty... The Defense Ministers have, in fact, ratified the list of HQs which will remain and those which will close, mainly during a dinner held Wednesday evening at the Alliance in Brussels. But to figure out the numbers, you have to be divine... The number of HQs is reduced from 11 to 7 (not counting transfers). The number of agencies goes from 14 to 3 (or 5 rather). The number of combined air operations centers (CAOCs) goes from 4 to 2… (2,5 rather).

The numbers of these HQs will drop from 13.000 to 8.800. Note that we are talking here about budget items; " there were not, in fact, 13.000 positions filled because the States did not always find the candidates or preferred to keep them for their national staffs ”, as a NATO official confirmed to me.

HQ: those who lose, those who win

On the HQ side, the distribution is a subtle arrangement that is both political and operational, so as not to upset anyone. Everything is done so that no one is too unhappy, at the expense of efficiency, sometimes...

Portugal loses its Joint Force Command (JFC), based in Lisbon, and commanded for two years recently by a Frenchman (General Philippe Stoltz); but receives, in exchange, two structures, the Striking Force NATO (STRIKFORNATO) and NATOCIS (Communications and Information Systems), which will move from Italy.

The Netherlands keeps its Joint Command (JFHQ) in Brunssum (Netherlands) as well as Italy Naples (Italy), the latter serving as command for Operation “Unified Protector” in Libya. Italy, on the other hand, lost the maritime command of Naples. But maintains a command and control center for deployable air elements (DACC), a wholesale transformation of its Poggio Renatico CAOC (*). You follow ! 🙂

Germany keeps one command: that of the Air component (AIRCOM) at Ramstein but loses that of the land component (LANDCOM) at Heidelberg ; it moves to Izmir in Turkey. She also keeps one of the two CAOC (*) in Uedem.

Turkey, which loses an Air component command, thus regains another command, a very political and strategic concession that is quite predictable with the Turkish ally, “ a way to tie it a little closer to NATO » explains an Alliance official.

The United Kingdom retains command of the Sea Component (MARCOM), Northwood, a command that serves as NATO's anti-piracy HQ.

Spain loses command of the Land component of Madrid. But she recovers one of the CAOC which concretizes a precursor element already present in Torrejon.

Despite some rumors of a move – more intended to scare a little than really founded – the Allied “Operations” command (ACO / SHAPE) remains near Mons (Belgium). Belgium, like its neighbor Luxembourg, is rather strengthened in the distribution of agency headquarters.

The Allied Command "Transformation" (ACT) remains in Norfolk (USA). With three specialized centres: the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Center (JALLC) at Monsanto near Lisbon (Portugal), the Joint Force Training Center (JFTC) in Bydgozcz (Poland), the Joint Warfare Center (JWC) in Bergen (Norway),

(*) There were until now 4 fixed CAOCs – in Uedem (Germany), Finderup (Denmark), Poggio Renatico (Italy) and Larissa (Greece) – and two deployable – in Uedem and Poggio Renatico (Italy).

The new agency system

A new agency structure is established around 3 poles, or even five poles:

  • the NATO Support Agency (NSA) will be in Capellen in Luxembourg, on the site of the current NAMSA (NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency);
  • the headquarters of NCIA (NATO Communications and Information) will be in Brussels as well as a small team designated for the Public Procurement Agency;
  • a new NATO Science and Technology (S&T) organization will be created by July 2012, based in Belgium, composed of a chief scientist and a program office for collaborative S&T, and the Undersea Research Center (NURC ), based in Italy.
  • NATO's standardization agency remains in place but will be subject to an audit by spring 2014.

As for the agencies responsible for managing multinational programs such as the Eurofighter (NETMA) and the NH90 helicopter (NAHEMA), they will become program offices of the new NATO Public Procurement Agency and will remain in place in their current location. currently, close to their industrial partners. The Nahema in Aix-en-Provence.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).