NRDC ITA: an outstanding tool to address NATO's new challenges

NRDC ITA: an outstanding tool to address NATO's new challenges


Solbiate Olona (VA),  13 May 2015. The NATO Rapid Deployable Corps – Italy (NRDC ITA) is experiencing a transformation towards a joint Command, in order to be able to be deployed – after the attainment of the validation as Joint Task Force Headquarters (JTF HQ) – for the so-called Small Joint Operation Land Heavy.This far-off process leading to NRDC ITA transformation into Joint Command stemmed from the new NATO Strategic Concept adopted at the 2010 Lisbon Summit that endorsed the Alliance decision to proceed towards a structure reduction within its commands and to require a stronger commitment in terms of resources to the benefit of the force structure, that is, the Rapid Deployable Corps structure. It is a process that dates back to five years ago and that is being implemented not just by NRDC-ITA, but also by all the other NATO Corps under transformation, like Spain in the first instance, and then Great Britain, France and Turkey to follow.
New elements have been added last year, during the Wales Summit: the Strategic Concept has been confirmed but the force deployment process has been revised through the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), which provides the necessary measures enabling the Alliance to efficiently respond to possible threats in the near future, especially in the light of the Ukrainian crisis developments and the rise of the Islamic State. Essentially, it is a way to prepare NATO to rapidly address all sorts of threats (Full Spectrum Activities), by deploying units for operations, exercises, training, assistance and “Key Leader Engagement” beyond its boundaries, maintaining the modular integration capability of supporting forces provided by the Alliance’s partner countries.
NRDC-ITA transformation has required a structural change and a development of new activities, which, to some extent, can be considered innovative ideas if compared to other similar NATO Commands, in addition to the important aspect of a mindset change. 
As to the structural change, the upgrade to a Joint Command entails the acquisition of campaign’s planning and conducting capabilities, even if limited in scope and with a heavy land component, by employing all the other military elements, including the navy and the air force. Therefore it has been necessary to redraft both planning and conducting procedures through the so-called “core process” and the Standardizing Operative Instructions (SOIs), which coordinate the activities of the entire Command and support the Commander in his decisions that will be transformed into orders for the subordinate Commands.
While the operational planning refers to the NATO doctrine, it is more difficult to find guidelines on the internal functioning and on the standardization of problem-solving dynamics at operational and tactical level at the same time. This is indeed a sort of grey area in which there are NATO standardized procedures at strategic and tactical levels that need adequate adjustments for an Operational Command like a JFC HQ. This has encouraged NRDC to look for any feasible – and innovative – solution concerning resource allocation and vulnerability detection. NRDC ITA, therefore, has opted for an “integrated model” in which the Commander is at once “Operational Commander” and “Land Commander”. Specific attention has been devoted to those areas where an in-depth study has conveyed new ideas within NATO: J2 Fusion and Knowledge Development, in which intelligence activities are not exclusively related to information on military issues but also to a wider comprehension of political, economic, social and infrastructure aspects; the capability of generating desired effects that might impact on the course of the campaign (that is, the “influence” pillar); and the Security Force Assistance (SFA) Concept, which relies on the recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and aims at rebuilding a credible and efficient military force in a failed State. But the biggest challenge is the development of an appropriate mindset for a campaign’s planning and conducting. This is where the “joint” component shows its efficacy: it draws in the capability to interact with all the actors involved in an area of operations through an holistic approach, the so-called Comprehensive Approach. And this is where the integration of kinetic and non-kinetic effects require a thorough construction of the operational framework. NRDC ITA transformation is, therefore, the ability of the Defense to deploy a proper tool to address the new global challenges, under the aegis of either NATO or other international organizations and coalitions, with a full deployable capacity on very short notice.