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Politics/Current Affairs

European Union army now at “full operational capability”

Friday, March 16th, 2007 at 12:47 by Sue Stewart

It’s not new. The idea that the EU might have its own army goes back to Maastricht in 1993, at least, and now it finally has one. We have one, given that we are members of the EU, no matter how much UKIP and associated numpties might hate it.

The army is said to have reached “full operational capability” (I love militarese, don’t you?) on 1 January 2007, so I can’t help wondering why it’s taken until mid-March for someone to mention it. Maybe I blinked and missed it. It’s far less important than Heather and Macca’s acrimonious divorce, after all. It’s certainly received less coverage.

The EU’s army is made up of units called “battlegroups” (this is in spite of the fact that the EU wants to “make love peace, not war” according to Emma Udwin, spokesperson on EU external policy). They can’t call them “peacekeepers” because it’s likely they’ll only be deployed where peace has already broken down. Besides, “peacekeeping forces” are NATO forces and our EU army won’t be part of NATO, which is interesting.

The fact that 2 battlegroups ready for immediate assignment = “full operational capability” is rather interesting, too. For the whole of the European Union, at present the multinational alternative to NATO army available is 3,000 soldiers, which I don’t imagine will have anyone quaking in their boots. But the potential is there, I suppose.

The idea is that the units will be ready to leap into action within 5 days of the EU deciding that they’re needed, actually arriving at their destination within 10 days. In military terms, that’s really fast. But let’s not forget that it’s the EU we’re dealing with - it may take 2 years to reach the decision.

What I really like, though, is this (no doubt “out of context”) quote from Fraser Cameron, director of the EU/Russia centre, which gives a peculiar twist to all of this. He says, “Iraq was such a shock that nobody wants that to happen again.”

Hang on - let me get this right. Didn’t the USA and America “go it alone” on Iraq, without the backing of the UN? And isn’t the idea that the EU battlegroups would be deployed at the UN’s request? Maybe I’ve blinked and missed something else.

Does he really think that the availability of a multinational EU force would make things happen any faster? Or does he think that - if it had existed then - our EU battlegroup could have been sent to oppose our UK invasion force?

Now, that is interesting.

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2 Comments on “European Union army now at “full operational capability””

  1. Sharon Says:

    EU Battlegroups? Do they have a Command Language sorted? Or will every order be given in all languages?

    Can’t see these being rapid response units.

  2. DannyMackay Says:

    Most of the EU’s 27 members joined the Iraq invasion and sent troops to support america. So perhaps the EU army will turn out to be a helpful tool for the US.

    That would annoy the french, which seems a perfectly good use of EU money to me.

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