Legally, the first step towards the foundation of JSEC after the decision of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) to set up a new headquarters in Germany was the Technical Administrative Arrangement (TAA), signed by all contributing nations on May 14, 2021 in Mons, Belgium.
The next decisive legal step will be the activation of JSEC as an International Military Headquarters (IMHQ) within the NATO force structure, according to 1952's Paris Protocol. The Alliance's highest military representative, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the Military Committee, has proposed to the NAC to officially grant JSEC the status of an IMHQ; the decision is expected by the end of June 2021.
At the same time, the operational command authority over JSEC will be transferred from the German Ministry of Defence to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), validated by a "Command and Control Agreement" (C2TA) between Germany and the Alliance. As a unique feature within the NATO force structure, there will be a continuous subordination of JSEC not only during crisis and conflict, but also in peacetime.
The Wilhelmsburg Barracks in Ulm, Germany (JSEC picture)
General Tod D. Wolters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is signing the Technical Administrative Arrangement, a founding document of the Joint Support and Enabling Command in Mons, Belgium. (SHAPE picture by MC2 Destinyy Reed, US N)
Simultaneously, on the diplomatic level, there has to be an official exchange of letters between Germany and SHAPE, in order to grant JSEC - an international entity - the permission of residence on German territory.
Once these legal steps are taken, certain privileges will be granted to JSEC, in order to ease the headquarters operations. For example, this includes immunity of documents, certificates, and archives, exemption from customs duties and taxation on the headquarters operational equipment, and the acknowledgement of JSEC as a legal person, including the right to maintain a bank account on its own accord.
In the further course of the setup process, the constituent meeting of JSEC's Senior Policy and Resources Committee (JSEC SPRC) will come up next. The JSEC SPRC consists of representatives of the participating nations and is authorized to decide on all matters concerning the policy, manning and financial issues of JSEC, including the annual budget.
When all these steps are finally taken, everything is geared towards the official declaration of JSEC's Full Operational Capability in Ulm, September this year.