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A Swede will command the Minurcat II. First numbers

(BRUSSELS2) It is a Swede who should lead the Minurcat II – the UN force in Chad and the Central African Republic – which must take over from the European military mission EUFOR Chad RCA in the spring.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonny Börjesson is expected to take up his duties in mid-February to ensure the transition between the two forces. He is expected to work in “close collaboration” with the Irish who currently command the operation and will retain an important role in the UN mission. Cooperation is made easier because the two armies collaborate regularly, particularly within the EU's Nordic battlegroup (in which Ireland participates) and through experience in the Balkans.

So far around fifteen countries have indicated that they support the force and participate in it in one way or another. But let us be clear: most of the personnel will come – at least initially from countries already participating in EUFOR. French, Polish and Irish in particular. But also Finns, Dutch and Russians.

• The Poland will maintain troops around Iriba, its current base. But in a reduced way. 300 to 400 men compared to 515 currently. Polish helicopters should also return to the country.

• The Finland should increase its workforce slightly, from the current 60 to 100 (or even 200).

• The Russia maintains its helicopters. The expected duration of the engagement is one year (2009). The last number of helicopters arrived on December 24. And the entire Russian helicopter force has been fully operational since the beginning of January.

• Newcomer, the Norway will provide a rural hospital, with a staff of 150 people (including 90 dedicated to the hospital). Which will bring a singular thorn in the side of the head of operation. The role II hospital being essential to the launch of any peacekeeping operation. The Italians – who have a superb deployable hospital – did not seem inclined to stay there (budgetary rationalization and commitment in Afghanistan required). The Norwegian Minister of Defense, Anne-Grete Strom-Erichsen, that Norway would not, however, participate in reinforcing MONUC in Congo.

• Among non-European countries, the Togo announced to provide a contingent of 300 men. The Togolese Chief of Staff – General Zakari Nandja – spoke about it in mid-December with General Chikadibia Obiakor, military advisor to the United Nations.

(NGV)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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