The European Union Battle Groups: Operational and Strategic Implications for NATO
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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The debate over the development of NATO expeditionary capabilities started in the late 1990s, but only after the 911 attacks -- following a proposal of then U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- was it finalized. The NATO Response Force NRF, activated in 2005, is the Alliances expeditionary force, capable of performing a full spectrum of tasks both in semi-permissive and non-permissive environments. On the 1st of January 2007, the European Union EU activated its own expeditionary forces, the EU Battle Groups EU BG, with the same missions the NRF has. Considering that 21 of the 27 members of the EU are NATO members, the answers to the questions about the strategic and operational implications of the EU BGs for the Atlantic Alliance are relevant. EU BGs and the NRF share the same missions, but they are not mirror images. EU BGs and the NRF -- in terms of size, capabilities, and core competencies -- are dissimilar forces. Due to these differences, it is possible that NATO and the EU, in future, can effectively cooperate in deciding which expeditionary force is the most suitable for dealing with the crisis at hand. The present agreements between NATO and the EU do not cover coordination, or cooperation, among rapid response forces. For this reason a revision, or better a reformulation, of these agreements is the best way to maximize the value of the NRF and the EU BGs.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics