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Nov 20 2020

LANDCOM Certifies Allied Rapid Reaction Corps as NATO's Warfighting Headquarters during Exercise Loyal Leda 20

SOUTH CERNEY, United Kingdom – NATO Allied Land Command Commander, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Roger L. Cloutier Jr., transferred the official NATO guidon to Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Commander, British Army Lieutenant General Edward Smythe-Osbourne, November 19, 2020 in an official ceremony certifying ARRC as NATO’s Warfighting Headquarters. The ceremony, marking the end to Exercise Loyal Leda 20, declares ARRC as combat ready to respond to any NATO contingency, from crisis response to major joint operations.

With the certification ARRC becomes NATO’s first designated warfighting headquarters since the end of the Cold War.

Exercise Loyal Leda 20 is a multi-domain, complex exercise designed to test the warfighting capability of the ARRC. As the NATO Commander responsible for conducting this evaluation, I’m pleased to say the ARRC has done a phenomenal job here and is ready, said Lieutenant General Cloutier.
 While the Loyal Leda 20 exercise itself was a combat simulation of a major joint operation, LANDCOM’s primary task was to evaluate the processes and procedures used by ARRC and ensure they were in compliance with NATO requirements for interoperability.

“The CREVAL is important because it ensures that the headquarters that is undergoing CREVAL is adhering to NATO standards,” said British Army Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hulme, CREVAL area team leader. His job, along with five other NATO officers, was to manage the evaluation criteria of over 450 tasks derived from Allied Force Standards Volume VII, which in essence is the manual for how NATO land forces are to operate during NATO contingencies.

The CREVAL of NATO forces are critical to readiness of the Alliance. A credible defence for the North Atlantic area depends on the provision of ready forces for Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

“We’re the advocate for the land domain for SACEUR and NATO,” said U.S. Army Major Billy Blue, LANDCOM’s Analysis and Reporting Team Chief, who explained, among the array of tasks LANDCOM is responsible for as part of its mission, it enables progression of technology and refinement of doctrine in a collaborative manner. “This is our role as LANDCOM,” he said.

Exercise Loyal Leda 20 had the added challenge of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic that complicated how it was conducted. Through collaborative efforts between ARRC, LANDCOM, Joint Force Training Command in Poland that served as the exercise control function, and enabling commands like NATO’s Rapid Deployable Corps Italy, Spain, and Greece who provided evaluation and augmentation support, the exercise went forward under adapted conditions. To mitigate potential spread of the virus among exercise participants on location in South Cerney, ARRC implemented a testing program as part of a pilot for the British Government.

According to ARRC exercise planning officials, this testing protocol, known as Lateral Flow (LF) and designed to reveal results in 15 minutes, formed one element of a comprehensive COVID plan for the exercise. A force protection working group established at the onset of the pandemic developed a detailed risk assessment for the UK deployment and layers of risk mitigation measures. LF testing was part of these measures.


Lieutenant General Cloutier stressed the importance of finding ways to continue the mission despite contemporary challenges.

“COVID is part of the environment now. We have to demonstrate that we can train and build readiness under COVID conditions," he said.

Through adapted evaluation measures and a deliberate force health protection plan implemented to mitigate the risk of COVID 19, LANDCOM successfully proved their critical work continues in support of their NATO mission.  ARRC also proved their readiness as NATO’s designated warfighting corps.

“In the future, and for ARRC as its role as a corps warfighting headquarters, we can be certain they can work alongside other NATO nations and to the same standards, and therefore be interoperable,” said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hulme. “I think to get where we are now has been a considerable achievement, and it’s gone very well,” Lieutenant Colonel Hulme said.

As his first CREVAL experience, Lieutenant General Cloutier couldn’t agree more.

“We have proved that we can still do the critical work of NATO in preparing NATO’s Corps headquarters, in this case the ARRC, by giving them the best exercise warfighting experience possible using adapted methods,” he said. “As our first experience conducting a CREVAL under COVID constraints, I can say without a doubt it was a success.”


Story by Public Affairs Office at LANDCOM.  Photos by LANDCOM and Allied Rapid Rapid Reaction Corps Public Affairs.

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