Ugo Mara Barracks

NRDC-ITA 4th COS Conference: cooperation, collective security and crisis response the main challenges to face

20150611_NRDC-ITA COS Conference (2)Rapid Deployable Corps-Italy (NRDC-ITA), the NATO HQ based in Ugo Mara Barracks, in Solbiate Olona – Varese (Italy), hosted the 4th Chief of Staff (COS) Conference from 9th to 11th of June.

The conference chaired by Major General Ugur Tarçın, Chief of Staff of the Land Command in Izmir, is organized yearly and is aimed to get together the nine NATO Graduated Readiness Force (Land) Headquarters Chiefs of Staff (COS).

Currently, NATO is experiencing a significant change to force posture – perhaps the most relevant since the end of the Cold War, as many of the analysts are inclined to underline. In consideration of this conceptual framework, the conference timeline has been properly defined in order to enhance the development of a comprehensive approach to the challenge the Alliance will be requested to face.

20150611_NRDC-ITA COS Conference (3)The Conference, indeed, provided a valuable opportunity for Senior Officers to discuss a wide range of common issues related to the implementation of new NATO structures and concepts. The interest showed by all the Senior Officers during the development of this symposium, is the evidence of the cohesiveness existing amongst the different NATO Land Forces community and their will to achieve common goals.

In addition to express the validity of the mutual support concept, the 28 nations of the Alliance are determined to resource the Readiness Action Plan to show the NATO strongest commitment to enforce cooperation, collective security and crisis response.

20150611_NRDC-ITA COS Conference (1)It is important to underline that this declaration of common intents comes right when the Alliance is alarmed by a degree of ambiguity showed by Russia in the international arena and concerned by the some indications of instability in North Africa involving the Mediterranean area even.

In addition to geopolitical issues some other topics discussed by the Senior Officers were about interoperability and connectivity, with a deep dive into contemporary threats such as Cyber threat and Crisis management.

“This conference has been a huge success – said Major General Maurizio Boni, Chief of Staff of NRDC-ITA -Each of the Land Graduated Readiness Forces HQ are in a better position to move ahead with the challenges that they currently face”.

NRDC-ITA has recently turned into the role of a Joint HQ capable to lead a Multinational Task Force at operational level, after the successfully validation achieved at the end of the Trident Jaguar training cycle in April (links below).

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Source: NRDC-ITA

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NRDC-ITA: new website, new social media profiles in accordance with Nato communication openness

NRDC-ITA_new websiteThe more you communicate, the more efficient your message will be: it is very hard to get away with this principle, particularly when it comes to succeed in communicating in our contemporary social media era.

In accordance with the growing weightiness of new ways of communication, and keeping an eye on the increasing importance of daily narrative in order to bridge any gap between military and civil audience, Nato’s approach looks more and more keen to interface with the internet and web interaction.

Following this point of view, the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps-Italy (NRDC-ITA), based in Ugo Mara Barracks in Solbiate Olona, Varese, has developed a new website, enhanced by new social media profiles as well.

NRDC-ITA_facebook“This new asset will complete the spectrum of the NRDC-ITA information activity, according to the NATO’s broader approach to communication”: here is the stance of NRDC-ITA Public Affairs Office, which is still working on the new website in order to get it at the ultimate upgrade.

NRDC-ITA is currently involved in operational-level exercise Trident Jaguar 2015, a joint military exercise aimed to turn NRDC-ITA into a Joint Task Force HQ (JTFHQ) and to provide an excellent preparation and coordination of effort for the upcoming scheduled final phase in Stavanger, Norway.

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NRDC-ITA new commander Gen Marchiò meets the press tomorrow at Mara Barracks in Solbiate Olona

NRDC-ITA gen Riccardo MarchiòThe NRDC-ITA (NATO Rapid Deployable Corps-Italy) Commander, Italian Lieutenant General Riccardo Marchiò, will meet the press tomorrow morning at around 11.30am at Ugo Mara Barracks, in Solbiate Olona, where the HQ is based 37 Km north of Milan.

This will be the first media opportunity since his assignment as NRDC-ITA Commander (link to related article here below): Gen Marchiò replaced Gen Giorgio Battisti on 24th November 2014.

NRDC-ITA is currently involved in operational-level exercise Trident Jaguar 2015, a joint military exercise aimed to turn NRDC-ITA into a Joint Task Force HQ (JTFHQ) and to provide an excellent preparation and coordination of effort for the upcoming scheduled final phase in Stavanger, Norway.

The Media Opportunity will take place at 11.30am. Journalists are welcomed at 11.00am. A light refreshment is also scheduled at the end of the activity (around 11.45am).

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CoE – Centres of Excellence – The NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy in Solbiate Olona (Part II)

NRDC-ITA organization

NRDC-ITA Headquarters is a complex organization “with committed, confident and experienced multinational staff working in a cohesive and structured team and using well-developed doctrine for multinational and joint operations at the land component level”.

This statement indicates the capability of NRDC-ITA in training its own personnel, in analyzing the results of the exercises and in creating specialized doctrine. Without any doubt, we’re staring at a Centre of Excellence in an Italian framework which is not only self-sustainable in terms of education of personnel, but it’s also able to educate personnel belonging to other structures.

Last exercise conducted at the end of June 2011, named Eagle Settler 2011, is only the first training course offered by NRDC-ITA specialists to an external military audience, the Italian Army Post Conflict Operations Study Centre in Turin.

More of this contributions will follow, particularly now that a Memorandum of Understanding between NATO Rapid Deployable Corps-ITA and the Italian Army Post Conflict Operations Study Centre was recently signed with the purpose to provide the Officers’ School and the Italian Army Post Conflict Operations Study with specific lectures on the new NATO strategic concept, the NATO comprehensive approach, the operational planning process, information operations, intelligence-surveillance target acquisition – reconnaissance, operational analysis in Post Conflict Operations and lessons learned from areas of NATO operations.

General Chiarini underlined the importance of this MoU in increasing the importance of NRDC-ITA among military structures by saying: “We are becoming a point of reference for all new NATO member countries eager to train in accordance with NATO standards”.

All of these capabilities are guaranteed by a multinational experienced staff that can rely on a well-developed doctrine to offer NATO an outstanding organizational environment.

The NRDC-ITA organization is composed of a central staff, an operations division, a combat support division (CSS), a combat service support division, a TRADOC division, a rear support command division (RSC), a communication information system division (CIS), a command post (CP).

The Corps is capable of commanding up to four divisions, combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) units for a total of 60,000 men. A huge range of options will be available to command and control land forces at the brigade and divisional level to operate as a stand-alone formation or subordinated to a higher HQ. A fundamental role in sustaining capability is played by the support brigade.

Support Units

– The Support Brigade

NRDC-ITA relies on an in-place support structure with equipment both for training and operations, which is dedicated to the entire range of communications. It is crucial to have a well-tailored support, since the HQ manages a filled training schedule dealing with the full operational spectrum up to high intensity war fighting with the complete range of modern weaponry.

The Support Brigade is the vital Support Unit of the HQ. It provides command support, allowing the Commander and his staff to exercise command and control over the assigned divisions and Corps troops.

The Support Brigade is composed of the 1st Signal Regiment based in Milan, which is composed itself  by Spluga Battalion and Sempione Battalion, a Tactical and Logistic Support Regiment, and the Post HQ based in Solbiate Olona.

The Support Brigade’s main task is to guarantee the Corps staff life support by deploying, moving, feeding, accommodating, administering and protecting it. Nonetheless, the brigade has also an administrative role, since it manages the entire administrative section of the armed corps. This is the unique Italian brigade with such a specific task among the Italian Army.

Referring to the high-profile brigade, the Brigade Commander general Antonio Pennino affirmed: “We’re able to create a complex structure starting from the roughest landscape”. In practical words, the brigade is able to put in place timely an entire village with sewers, bakery and communication lines starting from the drainage of the ground, just to give an idea.

Indeed, command support includes the provision of communication and financial support, the transport and building up of the NRDC’s deployable command posts (CPs), the establishment of a combined radio and satellite communication network.

– The Signal Support Brigade

The 1st Signal Regiment provides NRDC–ITA HQ with Command, Control, Communications and Computer (C4) support both in peace time and in operations. It is composed of two Signal Battalions, the Spluga and the Sempione. The former is committed full-time to the provision of Communications and Information Systems support at Rear, Alternate, Step up, (RAS)/Rear Support Command (RSC) CPs; the latter covers the CIS requirements of NRDC-ITA HQ Main CP.

– The Tactical and Logistic Support Regiment

This unit provides the tactical and logistic full-time support to NRDC-ITA, both in everyday life and in operations. It is composed also of a Security company, which is responsible for providing security and defence of the CPs and of Communication Centre.

The Support Regiment can give complete support in both NRF and HRF configuration of NRDC-ITA.

– The Post HQ

The Post HQ is responsible for the real life inside the Ugo Mara Barracks by giving assistance to assigned personnel and their families.


Multinationality has been in the past and will remain for the future the strategic factor of success for NRDC-ITA.

Moreover an enlightening statement released by the NRDC-ITA Deputy Commander (DCOM), UK general Thomas Beckett, unveils the secret of the outstanding goals achieved by this HQ from its constitution: “The real benefit of multinationality is the fact that each national character is strengthened by other nations”.

Indeed even if the influence of the framework nation– Italy in this case, can be considered in some aspects predominant general Beckett highlights that every different point of view contributes to an excellent result by saying that “everyone brings his style”. This is the key of success.

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CoE – Centres of Excellence – The NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy in Solbiate Olona (Part I)

Multinationality as a key of success is far longer the best impression depicting the characteristics of the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps – Italy (NRDC-ITA) based in Ugo Mara Barracks, in Solbiate Olona (Varese), whereas “ubique celere”, the specific Latin motto to express rapidity in deployment  to wherever it is needed, comes in this case immediately after as a natural consequence of a perfectly balanced multinational military environment.

Therefore, the multinational environment is the strategic factor which enables the NRDC-ITA to operate effectively in  contributing to deter an aggression against NATO through establishment and maintenance of a capability to deploy in a very short time in support of North Atlantic Council (NAC)-approved operations.

NRDC-ITA is a high readiness deployable corps with a complete and complex structure.

The Headquarters (HQ) is currently composed of 15 different NATO members countries: Bulgaria, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Indeed, HQ NRDC-ITA is a multinational HQ with Italy as the framework nation; Italy provides almost 70% of personnel, and the remaining 30% is made by Officers and NCOs from other Nations contributing to the Headquarters.

The NRDC-ITA Commander has the authority to take other nation’s units under command and to assign them tasks in order to accomplish the given mission, according to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by contributing nations. He will deploy “in the capacity as either a Land Component Commander (LCC) or a Corps Commander in the context of NATO operations”.

The NRDC-ITA activity is focused to train, exercise, and lead in operation  personnel, affiliated forces, and other forces assigned using NATO procedures in order to be ready  to conduct defensive, offensive, peace support operations (PSO), humanitarian support, and other operations throughout NATO territory and beyond NATO’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) as directed by the appointed NATO mission commander.

Currently, the NRDC-ITA commander is General Gian Marco Chiarini, even if in the very next future  he will  transfer his authority to General Giorgio Battisti, the change of command ceremony has been scheduled on 30th of June. General Chiarini has been NRDC-ITA Commander since 27th August 2008; he’s now moving to Brussels, since he’s been appointed as NATO and EU Italian Military Representative to the NATO and EU Military Committees.

NRDC-ITA as Land Component Command during NATO Response Force (NRF) rotation

During the last six months, NRDC-ITA accomplish the task to be the NATO Response Force (NRF) Land Component Command (LCC).

The NATO Response Force is “a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and special forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly to wherever it is needed”. It’s based on a rotational system; nations commit land, air, naval or special forces units to the NRF for a six-month period.

In this six-month period, the Corps headquarters and portions of the Italian Support  Brigade were  ready to deploy to a NATO Joint Operational Area on very short notice, under the command of the Joint Forces Command (JFC) based in Naples.

It goes without saying that such a challenging task implies a specifically dedicated national preparation, followed by training with other participants in the multinational force. As units rotate through the NRF, they develop new capability, so the associated high standards, concepts and technologies are progressively spread throughout the Alliance, thereby fulfilling one of the key purposes of the NRF – the further transformation of Allied forces.

Each rotation of the force has to train itself to face a wide range of challenges, and to prepare for so many tasks such as contributing to the preservation of territorial integrity, making a demonstration of force, participating to peace support operations, disaster relief, protection of critical infrastructure, security operations and, as part of a larger force, conducting initial entry operations.

As part of the specific training aimed to NRF LCC rotation, NRDC-ITA trained itself in 2010 with a series of exercises named Eagle Meteor 2010, Noble Light 2010 and Steadfast Juno 2010. During the NRF LCC rotation, NRDC-ITA kept fit by conducting three exercises named Eagle Eye 2011, Iron Triangle 2011 and Eagle Settler 2011. All of them demonstrated the NRDC-ITA capability to provide a rapid military response to an emerging crisis, whether for collective defense purposes or for other crisis response operations.

The NATO Response Force (NRF) initiative was announced at the Prague Summit in November 2002 and approved by Ministers of Defense in June 2003 in Brussels. In 2006, NRF was declared to be at full operational capability with up to 25,000 troops.

Any decision to use the NRF is a consensual political decision, taken on a case-by-case basis by all 28 Allies in the North Atlantic Council (NAC), NATO’s principal decision-making body. It will be tailored as required to the needs of a specific operation, and able to move quickly to wherever needed, but is not a permanent force. The NRF is able to perform well-defined missions on its own, or serve as part of a larger force to contribute to the full range of Alliance operations; it can sustain itself for up to one month and remain operational for longer if re-supplied.

During its last NRF rotation, NRDC-ITA hasn’t got any order to intervene, in spite of the recent turmoil against governments that blew up in Northern Africa. In particular, Libyan crisis focused the international attention, and not only media but also general public showed specific interest in following the situation, while peering at what NAC was going to announce day-by-day for what concern the NRDC-ITA possible deployment.

“At the end no political order was issued – said general Chiarini in his last interview as NRDC-ITA Commander with Paola Casoli il Blog – and we kept on preparing for any task while maintaining our own readiness”.

Ready to deploy rapidly everywhere

“Ubique celere”  is the Latin motto one can read close to NRDC-ITA acronym in the green shield of the armed corps. It means everywhere rapidly, referring directly to the main purpose of NRDC-ITA that is to provide a High Readiness Force (HRF) according to NATO’s request.

In 2001, in fact, NATO decided to provide the Alliance with rapidly deployable, mobile, sustainable and flexible multinational forces and command and control capabilities.

In accordance to the request to review the force structure, the Alliance decided to create five new High Readiness Forces (Land) (HRF), to react on short notice to future NATO operational commitments. In November 2001 HQ NATO Rapid Deployable Corps – Italy was established at Ugo Mara Barracks in Solbiate Olona, near Milan, Italy, in conjunction with HRFs in France, Germany, Spain, and Turkey.

Even though the new strategic concept of the Alliance is currently aiming to a reduction of personnel serving in NATO, so to shape a slimmer force structure, this seems not dramatically affecting the HRF concept. “In some measure the downsizing was expected – said general Chiarini – and NATO will face up a great challenge”.

… Part II is following …

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Photo credit: PAO NRDC-ITA