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Our History

NRDC-Italy was established in 2001 following the request of the Alliance for Italy to join the NATO High Readiness Forces project. The unit is heir to the traditions of the 3rd “Celere” Division and the 3rd Army Corps. The program born was created following a series of events that guided the development of the Alliance from its origins until now. The 9/11 attacks in the United States marked the beginning of a new era for NATO.

The focus of NATO remains centered on Collective Defense and the alliance continues to evolve. The Alliance adopted a new operational concept based on a revised command and control structure, that is capable to manage a complex mix of forces that are ready to operate within and beyond NATO’s borders.

In this context, within the “new” pool of rapidly deployable, mobile, multinational, sustainable, and flexible forces available to NATO, NRDC-ITA was established, with headquarters in Solbiate Olona (Ugo Mara barracks) and Milan (Palazzo Cusani). From the outset, through a path of constant growth, NRDC-ITA has worked to increase, develop, and refine its operational capabilities with the goal of preparing its staff, procedures, and structure to face new scenarios in parallel with the evolving process of the Alliance.

In 2005, four years after its establishment, NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy was deployed to Afghanistan at the helm of the NATO International Security Assistance Force. This important mission involved nine months of intense commitment during which NRDC-ITA was fully involved in engagements in the political, military, security, humanitarian, and developmental fields at local, regional, and occasionally at the international level.

This deployment, and following in 2009 and 2013, earned NRDC-ITA full recognition as an effective defense and security provider in the broader international context. In 2015, NRDC-ITA moved from operating solely at the tactical level, to operating at the operational level, being validated as a Joint HQ. In doing so it added an additional capability alongside Land Component Command and Corps structure and procedures.

The presence of staff from the Navy and the Air Force and related coordination cells, ensures the Joint capability of NRDC-ITA. The Headquarters can plan and execute high-intensity military operations, as well as Crisis Response Operations, cooperating with many non-military actors/entities and fully implementing the NATO Comprehensive Approach concept.

Innovation and adaptation are key principles for NRDC-ITA. The HQ continues to maintain its readiness, as well as acting as a training hub for staff and units from across Italy and the wider Alliance. Additionally, NRDC-Italy is also a proud contributor and supporter of national efforts in Italy. NRDC-Italy contributes its military forces in support of Police Forces in homeland security operations in Lombardy. Additionally, the command is a key provider of equipment and personnel in supporting Italy and Europe in emergency management, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, NRDC-ITA can manage a wide spectrum of operations within the core tasks for the Alliance (Deterrence and Defence, Crisis Prevention and Management, and Cooperative Security). The Command can cover multiple roles employing over 60,000 soldiers, from the Army Corps level in conventional operations to a joint HQ in crisis response operations or stability operations. This capability is possible thanks to an intense exercise and training program conducted by the staff with the subordinate and affiliated units. Among these: the Italian “Vittorio Veneto” and
2nd “Acqui” divisions, the 1st UK Division, the Greek 2nd Mechanized Division, the 10th Slovenian infantry battalion and a Hungarian infantry battalion, and many supporting units from the Italian Armed Forces.

In 2023, NRDC-ITA has been selected as the headquarters for the Alliance’s new Allied Reaction Force (ARF). The establishment of the ARF was announced during the NATO Summit in Vilnius in July. The ARF is a strategic, high-readiness force able to deploy at very short notice, it is supported by scalable multi domain force packages to strengthen deterrence in peace and crisis or provide strategic dilemma to adversaries.

This inherent flexibility allows SACEUR to allocate additional forces to the ARF Commander as required, in any situation. The ARF forms a critical component of the New NATO Force Model, which supports The Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA) and is designed to be complementary to Alliance Regional Plans agreed on during the Vilnius summit.

The selection of NRDC-ITA reaffirms Italy’s commitment to the Alliance and the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic area.
The NRDC-ITA operational HQ in Solbiate Olona
2002: Exercise LIGHT SHIP
 2002: Achievement of the Full Operational Capability
2005: First deployment in Afghanistan
2014: Exercise EAGLE JOKER
2023: Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Christopher G. Cavoli selected NRDC-ITA as headquarters for the Alliance’s new Allied Reaction Force (ARF) 


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