Sweeping NATO HQ changes - AMCC Northwood retained

NATO has agreed plans for a new land, air and maritime command structure which will reduce command and staff personnel by 30 per cent. The maritime component command in Northwood, cited in a recent NATO study as one of the most efficient headquarters within the entire NATO command structure. is being retained. Aviation Week reports:

At the end of the two-day defense ministers meeting, NATO revealed plans for a new defense structure which will reduce personnel by 30 percent and save tens of millions of dollars over the next few years. Belgian air force Brig. Gen. Patrick Wouters, deputy director of the plans and policy division of NATO's International Military Staff, said the new command structure would be leaner, more efficient, more deployable and affordable, and adapted to the new strategic concept adopted by NATO leaders at their Lisbon summit last November. The new structure will reduce personnel by 8,000 from the current 30,000, cut four headquarters and three command elements.

The two NATO strategic commands -- Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, Virginia; and Allied Command Operations, more commonly known as Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), in Mons, Belgium -- will remain in place. The two joint force commands in Brunssum, the Netherlands, and Naples, Italy, will be converted into larger joint force headquarters able to deploy 500 of their 850 personnel. These new headquarters will take back the regional focus they lost during the last NATO command restructuring. ACT, SHAPE and the two new joint force headquarters will take on new tasks outlined in NATO's new strategic concept.

The land, air and maritime component commands will be reduced from two each to one each. The land component commands in Madrid and Heidelberg will be closed and replaced by one in Izmir, Turkey, grouping together land components available in NATO, providing command and control of land operations, and conducting multi-corps operations.

Izmir will lose its current air component command, while the one in Ramstein, Germany, will take on new tasks like missile defense. Wouters said the air component command in Ramstein would be better adapted to use NATO's joint air component air command concept and would easily be able to revert to a wartime structure such as the one presently being used for air operations against Libya.

NATO's Coalition Air Operation Centers (CAOCs) will be reduced from four to two, with the others adopting a national or multinational character. The four current CAOCs are in Larissa, Greece, Finderup, Denmark, Poggio Renatico, Italy, and Uedem, Germany. The latter two will continue as part of the new NATO command structure and remain static, providing air policing and air command like Poggio Renatico is currently doing over Libya.

In addition, a new deployable air command and control center detached from the CAOCs will also have air command functions. The deployable air control system, recognized air picture production center, and sensor fusion post (DARS) in Nieuw Milligen will be combined with a new deployable air operations center in Poggio Renatico providing air command and real time control of fighters like that being provided over Libya.

The maritime component command in Naples will be closed, leaving the one in Northwood focusing on maritime surveillance.

The new Command and Information (C&I) Agency will combine the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), parts of the NATO Communication and Information Systems Agency (NCSA), and NATO Air Command and Control System Management Agency (NACMA). The NCSA's 18 deployable communication modules (signals companies) totalling 1,300 personnel will be transferred to SHAPE.

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