European Military Cooperation’s
While it is understood that most interventions by the EU will need to be comprehensive, in many cases the Military capabilities will be the first to be deployed. To be seen as “military capable” underpins the early diplomatic initiatives and has a deterrent effect supporting the daily efforts to promote and protect the values and the interests of the Europeans. Contrary to many civil services the Military have a long tradition in realistic international training. As shown by NATO, that training can be made very visible, is well perceived by the public at large and expresses the will and the capacity to act if need be.
The European Union should make an effort to make progress in this field also as a tool to promote itself, underlining the better spending of the large but still limited financial assets, visualizing the “spent better before spending more” principle.
On top of this it must be recognized that today the national Military Armed Forces of the Member States of the EU do, individually, very often not have the size nor the complexity for an effective realistic confidence building training.
International and national military staffs are better equipped and are more competent than international think-tanks to spell out in detail how this better, more visibly European and more efficient training has to be conducted.
Therefore, examples below have no other ambition than to inspire those that have now this responsibility in those organizations.
What follows are possible pragmatic ways ahead to improve the military cooperation in the European Union environment. The examples are highly symbolic, can yield visible results in the very near future and would be as many positive pro-European Union signals, so very much needed in these times of doubt and euroscepticism. Also, the added cost of these pragmatic measures will be minimal.
Expressing the need to better protect the Europeans and their vital interests, noting several successful recent military cooperation’s in a European environment (While the Eindhoven Air Transport Command can stand model for also surface movements of military assets and even for broader naval and land logistics an effort should also be made to structure European Common Military Training among the member states focusing also on the high-end of the capabilities), underlining the need of a civil-military approach, improving the possibility of rapid decision making, referring to the articles 42 and 46 of the Lisbon Treaty on structured cooperation and to the Bratislava declaration of 16 September 2016 inciting the “European Council to decide on a concrete implementation plan on security and defence” it is suggested progress to be made in four fields: Military Planning Command and Control, Navy, Army and Airforce:
- In Military Planning Command and Control:
Transform the Eurocorps Headquarter in Strasbourg into a European Operational Headquarter by further internationalization (more combined) and by making it more joint.
The Eurocorps Command Structure is also a much appreciated and several times used NATO “Deployable Army Corps Command” evaluated and validated by SACEUR (NATO ACO). We might want to keep that possibility and that should be possible using a necessary “reach back”
when part of it is deployed as Force Command.
Can this Operational Command take responsibility for tactically evaluating some of the earmarked European military forces?
Bring together all deployable assets of the European Union Navies in two Operational Commands responsible for their training. One in the north (North Sea, Baltic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean) and one in the south (Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean).
Submarines can often be considered as special “special forces”, they may merit an independent common “Combatant Command” for training.
Also, the Maritime nuclear deterrent component(s) is (are) to be considered separately.
Because of its huge relatively recent experience based on the Falklands War (1982) and the subsequent operational sea trainings provided to a great number of European Navies’ warships a special relationship is to be maintained with the RN FOST institution.
Bring together the Special Operations Forces and Rapid Deployable Forces of the States of the European Union in three Operational Commands responsible for their training. Each Command should be responsible for the training of at least a three brigade size force.
The Special Forces Commands for training are to address deployment, employment, extraction, combat support and combat service support.
- Air Force:
Maximize the common maintenance, common instruction and common training of the ever-decreasing number of military aircraft in the inventory. It is understood that this effort will be type committed (common major maintenance tools, common simulators, common spare parts stocks) and is applicable for fighter aircraft, for helicopters (NH90) and for transport aircraft (AM400).
The Air (Fighter) Commands for training will have to create a CAOC (Combat Air Operation Centre), it should be deployable.
As concluding considerations, it can be underlined that the above-mentioned Commands, responsible for training, shall be instrumental in proposing common specifications for future re-equipment requirements. That, if the event occurs, those commands could act as combatant commands when the decision is taken to deploy for operations, thus facilitating force generation and strengthening the relevance, the usability and the deployability of the military part of the EU’s rapid response toolbox
That all this has to happen in close consultation with NATO as it is a strengthening of its European pillar.
And finally it is necessary to underline that in this implementation plan the United Kingdom is to be kept involved and on board.