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EU Battlegroups - projecting power for the soft continent.

by Colman Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 12:16:24 PM EST

For the sake of our readers who are dismayed at the weak military stance of the EU (excluding, of course, the UK) and its inability to "step up to the plate"1 let us introduce you to Europe's brand-new Battlegroups2.

What are Battlegroups? Each is to consist of 1500 troops drawn from the various military arms of one or more EU states, to include both ground and air forces and the logistical support required to deploy and maintain the force in action. 13 battlegroups have already been committed to and negotiations are under way to form more - for instance Ireland, which is traditionally neutral, recently agreed to start negotiating with other EU states to join one. Some of the battlegroups are provided by a single state - France, Italy, Spain and the UK are all doing this - or by multiple states - Germany, Austria and Czech Republic for example.

The aims for battlegroups are quite limited:

Key objectives for the EU Battlegroups are that they can take the decision to launch an operation within 5 days of the approval by the Council. Forces should be on the ground no later than 10 days after the EU decision to launch the operation.

In response to a crisis, or to an urgent request by the UN, the EU should be able to undertake two Battlegroup-size operations for a period of up to 120 days simultaneously.(EurActiv.com)

And what are they for?
The research report by the Department of Strategic and Defence Studies in Helsinki: “EU Battlegroups: Theory and Development in the light of the Finnish Swedish Co-operation” delivers a critical analysis: “Theoretically speaking the EU Battlegroups could participate in the following mission profiles:
  • Expeditionary force. Either an autonomous or a joint operation (with NATO) to solve a limited size crisis.
  • Entry force. An initial mission by paving the way to a larger operational size peace-enforcement or peacekeeping follow-on force.
  • Emergency force. Supporting an existing (peacekeeping) mission by offering a robust capability to solve a local and limited size crisis.
  • Europe is working on this: some of the problems are to do with political conflicts with and within NATO and the apparent US wish to have a strong European military that is available to carry out missions as and when the US tells it.

    1. Why is eating dinner considered such a manly behaviour? American. Who can understand them?

    2. Doesn't it sound good? "We have BATTLEGROUPS" "Cool". Sounds nice and butch. We shan't have to put up with those strutting Americans now.

    Looks like we should dress the site up in camoflague today - three stories with a military flavour.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 12:23:49 PM EST
    Of course, all battlegroups are provided with a battalion class cappuccino machine.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 12:25:06 PM EST
    "Step up to the plate" is something you do in baseball.

    I got a good chuckle out of that.

    Of course, we have some incredible T-bone steak eating offers down south. if you can finish the T-bone, you don't have to pay for your dinner. Only a "real man" can do it. As you might imagine, such restaurants are not in the business of losing money.

    by Upstate NY on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 01:00:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I only used "step up to the plate" after I heard it used by a BBC announcer the other day. Apparently it has become a common enough saying. (Is it used in cricket?).

    Interestingly, in my original posting I pointed out that the EU could be doing more humanitarian work, but only the military aspect was noticed.

    One doesn't need an army to fund family planning clinics in the third world. The UN is making daily appeals for food to combat the draught in Africa, why isn't the EU sending supplies?

    How about subsidizing HIV medicines, or forcing changes in policy by many of the (European-based) drug companies that supply these items?

    Countries with poor civil rights behavior can also be influenced by non-military means. How about charging people like Mugabe with genocide and taking the case before the tribunal in the Hague? Even the threat of such charges may get some of the ego-maniacal leaders to change their behavior. Many want to be seen as the "father" of their countries, not as an international criminal.

    Policies not Politics
    ---- Daily Landscape

    by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 02:33:50 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Respond to a crisis.. for e period of up to 120 days?

    -- Fighting my own apathy..
    by Naneva (mnaneva at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 01:01:11 PM EST
    I guess after four months it's not exactly a crisis anymore and you've had time to work some other solution out. Four months would be long enough to mobilise and insert other forces if you needed to.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 01:10:26 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, a crisis definitely requires a quicker response.

    -- Fighting my own apathy..
    by Naneva (mnaneva at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 01:23:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And the intent is to be able to deploy in 5 to 10 days.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 04:16:09 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    How many battlegroups does it take to make a battlestar ?
    by Francois in Paris on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 01:44:20 PM EST
    I've had this XTC song stuck in my head for about four years.

    Generals and majors ah ah
    They're never too far
    From battlefields so glorious
    Out in a world of their own
    They'll never come down
    Till once again victorious

    Generals and majors always
    Seem so unhappy 'less they got a war

    The whistling is catchy, too.

    Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

    by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 02:41:23 PM EST
    Crisis intervention  : why the hell everybody is thinking in military humbeldebum?

    I am aware of the military buildup in Europ. Even our mini-army in Belgium does exercises to fit in that picture.

    Where is the civilian counterpart ?  

    Well, in Belgium we do have a civilian intervention team(B-FAST)

    But in reality , apart from the splendid jobs they did in the past , often everything is spoiled by lack of politcal will and the lack of resources.

    I imagine that on a European level it must me possible to create a emergency service that can launch interventions within hours with civilian personal to respond to earthquakes, fires, inundations.........

    The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

    by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 03:20:54 PM EST
    Talking about European soldiers, I don;t know enough about it to make a diary out of it, but the German Minister for the Interior, had the plan to use "regular" troups to do "policing" for the Worldcup. Which sends shivers down my spine.
    That is a "civilian" use of the military, that should not be necessary - except for emergencies, that need overwhelming man power, like floods or some such.
    There was a big discussion about it in Germany a couple of weeks ago, which actually included a cartoon that depicted a Iranian Football team as Suicide bomber and a German team with helmet and rifle. They got criticised for it, because people assumed it was critical of the Iranians. That it mend to criticise the absurdity of German soldiers as guards for the World Cup was not being picked up.

    On the other hand Germany has the THW, the Technische Hilfs Werk, which is an excellent first responder for disasters of all kind and it is civilian. It has a very good track record.
    They are just no use if you need to provide security.
    Does your country has a Civilian First Responder Team, that is not the Fire services?

    by PeWi on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 06:51:20 PM EST
    Well yes, the US has FEMA.

    "The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

    by Ritter on Sat Feb 25th, 2006 at 05:07:56 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In Spain we have proteccion civil, which is also excellent.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 25th, 2006 at 05:11:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]

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