New NATO Joint Support and Enabling Command in Ulm

14.06.2018 - Article

Wilhelmsburg-Kaserne© MN JHQ Ulm
Having adopted a proposal to adapt the NATO Command Structure at their meeting on 14–15 February 2018, the NATO Defence Ministers approved the finalised plan when they met again on 7–8 June. The plan is for two new operational commands to be established within the NATO Force Structure. One of these is the Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC).

Transport and protection

If the Alliance is called on to defend one of its members, the command centre will be responsible for organising and protecting movements of troops and equipment within Europe. Planning can be centralised and protection harmonised while the troops are still en route to their theatre of operations, or well before they set off. The support command’s remit will cover the whole of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s area of responsibility, which stretches from Greenland to Africa, encompassing Europe and the surrounding seas.

NATO currently intends to activate the JSEC only in the event of crisis entailing imminent clashes with a well-matched adversary – circumstances known within NATO as MLE (maximum level of effort). However, the JSEC has a number of tasks to fulfil in peacetime to ensure that it is ideally prepared for activation.

Germany assuming responsibility

German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen
German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen at NATO Meeting of June 2018 in Brussels© NATO
Germany has assumed responsibility for establishing the JSEC, thereby living up to its role as a strategic hub within Europe. The JSEC is now being set up in a series of phases, on the basis of plans drawn up at the national level in close liaison with NATO. The Bundeswehr’s Joint Support Service has a special role to play in this process.

Specialist capabilities in place

The Joint Support Service, having served the Bundeswehr for many years, already fosters a wide range of core skills in the field of supporting capabilities and operates in an increasingly multinational manner. What is more, its Multinational Joint Headquarters Ulm is unique not only to the Bundeswehr but worldwide. Its particular capabilities include operational command and control, and it already undertakes tasks on behalf of NATO and the EU. The Joint Support Service will therefore have recourse to the Ulm joint HQ when setting up the JSEC.

Quick off the mark

The organising staff, initially made up mostly of German personnel, will start work at Multinational Joint Headquarters Ulm as early as the beginning of July. Initial operational capability is to be achieved by the end of 2019, followed by full operational capability by the end of 2021. The JSEC will be a multinational unit employing around 100 servicemen and ‑women in peacetime, rising to around 500 when activated. According to current planning, the JSEC staff will be quartered at the Wilhelmburg barracks in Ulm.

In setting up the JSEC in Ulm, the Joint Support Service is making a crucial contribution to Germany’s fulfilment of its Alliance responsibilities.

This is the translation of an article published on the website of the Ministry of Defence

Top of page