EU Defense (Doctrine)

American Sherlock Holmes discovering the EU…

(photo credit: Africom – General Sherlock and Ambassador Holmes during the launch of training for FARDC soldiers in Kisangani, mid-February)

(BRUSSELS2) If some Europeans consider that European defense is “peanuts“, this does not seem to be the case for everyone. Last week, two officials from Africom, the American military command in Africa, visited Brussels. Ambassador Holmes, Deputy Commander of Africom for Civil-Military Activities and MajorGeneral Sherlock, Director of Strategy, Plans and Programs. Objective: to perfect their knowledge of the EU, to examine the collaborations that can emerge between Americans and Europeans, on civil crisis management in particular.

The EU's civil-military experience is of interest. The Americans are indeed particularly interested in the civil-military experience of the Europeans, especially for security sector reform (SSR). As Ambassador Holmes explained to the press: “ We are at Africom, soldiers, in an American system where we have legal constraints. We can handle the defense aspect but are not allowed, for example, to train the police. We want to see how from the European perspective we can work together, complementing each other »

The Americans went around the owner. On the menu, according to my information, a trip to the CMPD – the new civil-military crisis management department. An interview aimed at understanding how European bodies work. “ Tell us about the Lisbon Treaty » said the American Sherlock Holmes in substance to their interlocutor, Claude-France Arnould. A more practical interview followed, intended to look at possible collaborations with the EU, particularly in Congo (which is of great interest to the Americans) or in Guinea-Bissau. Maritime surveillance also interested them greatly. The Americans also did not forget to meet with some officials from DG Development, to talk a little more about strategy and development program.

In somalia. Furthermore, discussions are going well between Europeans and Americans on the training operation for Somali soldiers in Uganda (EUTM), which could become the first demonstration of this new understanding (1). “ There are many areas where we look at how our interests can combine, and how we can contribute to each other. (…) It is therefore important for us to listen to the priorities of the European Union. »said Ambassador Holmes. For example " the training of non-commissioned officers or the fight against IEDs. Many TFG soldiers were killed by IEDs. With Iraq or Afghanistan, the United States, but not only them, the British also, have a lot of experience in this area, and we can train the forces of the TFG as well as Amisom to neutralize this threat.. » Concretely, on the European side, it is estimated that the Americans could also participate in equipping the Somali forces.

  • NB: the United States already provides support to AMISOM troops (Uganda, Burundi) in terms of training, equipment and logistical support (also transport). They also benefit from the weapons equipment program (Foreign Military Sales or FMS): vehicles, personal protective equipment and uniforms.

Africom. Created in 2007, formalized in 2008, the American command for Africa (based in Stuttgart, etc.) is intended to be testimony to better coordination and intensification of military cooperation in Africa. Africom is very involved in post-conflict zones, in the Sahel countries, in Liberia, in Guinea (under the UN umbrella). “ And it wouldn't surprise me if we went to Niger to support the transition to democracy » explains Ambassador Holmes. The Americans are also very present in the DRC Congo. Africom has just started (two weeks ago) the training of a FARDC battalion outside Kisangani. “ Training intended not only to acquire basic military knowledge according to Maj. Gen Sherlock" but also to be a center of excellence in the FARDC. The soldiers will thus receive training on the rule of law and on issues of sexual violence. What we are trying to do is provide a battalion that can serve as an example for other units and future FARDC training efforts.”

(1) The Americans are certainly already integrated into the “Rule of Law” mission (Eulex) in Kosovo. 83 men and women, police officers. But this is a fairly classic integration of a third state into a European mission, already defined, under European command.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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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