Steadfast Jackal 2023: NATO Certifies Eurocorps as the Joint Task Force Headquarters during a Multinational Exercise in Norway

After having been NATO-certified in December during Exercise Steadfast Jackal 23 (STJA23), EUROCORPS (EC) is now on a one-year standby as the Joint Task Force Headquarters (JTFHQ) from January 1st, 2024 until December 31st , 2024. In the event of an activation, EC would be deployed in the framework of a peacekeeping, evacuation of nationals, crisis management, humanitarian assistance, or disaster relief mission.

Under the direction of the Joint Warfare Center (JWC) of Stavanger, Norway, and sponsored by SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe, this Computer-Assisted Exercise (CAX) STJA23 gathered 800 participants hailing from 18 NATO member and partner states. From November 28th through December 7th, 2023, EC had the opportunity to test its planning and conduct capability for non-Article-V land-heavy joint operations. Placing the effort on counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and regional stability, STJA23 was based on a fictitious 360° strategic scenario developed by JWC. The evaluation team composed of personnel coming from the Joint Force Command in BRUNSSUM, Netherlands, ascertained EC’s capability to plan and conduct so-called joint operations based on criteria and guidance which was determined by SACEUR, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Within the aforementioned fictitious scenario, EC commanded a joint force of more than 40,000 men and women in an extremely extended theater of operations covering two countries characterised by complex geopolitical and security conditions. 

EXCON (Exercise Control) of STJA23 set up response cells to represent higher-echelon NATO political and military command entities, the so-called HICON (Higher Control), subordinate units as well as an exercise control that provided for realistic play. The operational environment provided a high-level training opportunity offering the EC and its subordinate or assigned components a most realistic and consistent training context. Part of the 800-strong training audience at Stavanger were the French-German Brigade who contributed in the role of the Land Tactical Element (LTE), which was integrated into the JHQ. The Spanish logistics brigade mastered its role of Joint Logistic Support Group (JLSG), while a Spanish aerial force based in Torrejon, Spain, provided the Joint Force Air Command (JFAC). An abundant series of highly diverse events and incidents gave Eurocorps and its components a much-welcome chance to refine its Command and Control (C2) architecture, to cultivate civil-military cooperation and to make sure the “Comprehensive Approach” was well integrated, as required by this type of operation. The management of logistics at the operational level, the joint operational picture and the Strategic Communication (STRATCOM) were among the challenges tackled. 

It took two years of effort to master such a certification exercise, two years that have led up to a one-year standby phase to the benefit of NATO. While EC is on standby throughout 2024, it will at the same time take advantage of the experience acquired to prepare yet another standby phase in 2025, this time as the Force Headquarters (FHQ) of the EU Battle Group (EUBG) in the framework of its Rapid Deployable Capacity (RDC). In other words: Eurocorps is up for two consecutive years of operational standby. 

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