The future of EU Battlegroups addressed in London

15 October 2013, Last updated at, 18:28 EET
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The future of EU Battlegroups addressed in London | author: KAM

Why have the European Union Battlegroups never been used? Maybe it is just the wrong concept? Can we really solve the issues without reopening the EU Battlegroup concept? These are some of long-standing issues that the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas together with other representatives from EU member states were addressed at the seminar on European Burden Sharing and the Role of EU Battlegoups on 15 October in London (UK).

“ I believe the European Council in December to express itself on the future of EU Battlegroups. I expect strong political message recalling the current level of ambition and committing to use EU Battlegroups, “ the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence J. Olekas said.

The Minister underscored that Lithuania had always attached great importance to the Battlegroups issue. “We are taking part in the Battlegroup with less than two year intervals. While one our contingent is on standby within the current UK-led Battlegroup, the other one is already starting its preparations for the next rotation in 2015 within the Nordic Battlegroup. And this is the reason we wasn’t EU Battlegroups to be an effective tool “the Minister said.

As the Presidency, Lithuania seeks to increase the flexibility of EU Battlegroups, to facilitate conditions for their deployment and enhance training of the Battlegroups.

“By increasing the modularity of the Battlegroups we could be able to tailor them to a specific crisis, said the Minister while dwelling upon the usability if the Battlegroupos. “In practice this could mean employing only a part of the Battlegroup or reinforce it with additional elements”.

According to the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence, the possibilities of use of Battlegroups in specific crisis situation, should be regularly engaged at the defence ministers’ level. This could help in building consensus in advance, identifying and dealing with national caveats as well as tailoring the Battlegroups to the specific deployments.

The Minister believes that the usability of the Battlegroups is closely connected to the necessity to enhance training, standardisation and certification and improvement of the advance planning of the Battlegroups.

“I would like to finish on a positive note by saying the Battlegroups have already proved themselves. It is a good tool for transformation. As it is a good tool to increase interoperability of forces. First of all with between Member States, but not less important with Partners. I believe Partnership dimension within the Battlegroups has not been fully explored yet,” the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence said.

The usability of EU Battlegroups is one of the top issues in the run up to the European Council in December, where defence issues will be on the agenda after a long break. It is also a one of priorities of Lithuanian’s EU Presidency in the second half of 2013.

The seminar, which was held at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, was jointly organised by the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence and UK Ministry of Defence.

The current Battlegroup on standby is UK-led and composed of Dutch, Latvian, Lithuanian, Swedish and UK troops. Lithuania has contributed with a maneuver unit which is composed of 120 troops from the Lithuanian King Mindaugas Motorised Infantry Battalion along with Lithuanian officers posted to EU Battlegroups Headquarters.

The EU Battlegroup is a high-readiness, rapidly deployable and multinational force capable of carrying out operations individually or acting as a part of the initial stage of a larger operation. A group is usually 2, 000 strong and is composed of military units assigned by EU member states for six-month standby periods on a voluntary rotational basis.

In case of activation, the EU Battlegroups can be deployed on the ground within 5–10 days and sustain for between 30 to 120 days.

The first EU Battlegroups began their standby rotations in 2005.

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