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Use battlegroups in the event of a disaster?

(BRUSSELS2) This proposal was launched by Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos during the informal meeting of Defense Ministers in Ghent. " The year 2010 was marked by the most serious natural disasters, such as in Haiti or Pakistan, where the EU's intervention and assistance plans require military means Darabos told his colleagues. " It might be wise to use our rapid reaction force, which is very expensive and has not yet been used, for this purpose. It would be a visible sign of EU humanitarian aid.”. " The battle-group could be used for example to create a safe environment for aid agencies humanitarian he completed. An idea supported by the Spanish Minister of Defense. But not automatically by all delegations.

Comment: if we can understand the interest of a battlegroup to deal with a difficult security situation (1), following a disaster, which also responds to the relaxation of the use of battlegroups decided in 2009 ( 2), on the other hand, the use of such an instrument in a disaster situation without proven security risk (such as fires in Russia or tsunami) seems tricky for two reasons: on the one hand, it is neither the vocation of a rapid reaction force, nor its training; on the other hand, it can pose a number of problems of confusion of roles between the military and humanitarians, and generate unnecessary tensions. This use would quickly be counterproductive. It is better to have forces specialized in this disaster response (B'Fast type in Belgium or French Civil Security or firefighters in several countries) - which, even if they have a military status, have a strong civilian tone (and appearance). Even if it means supporting them with an air or helicopter transport element. Because what is lacking above all in a disaster situation is transport, or even logistics. What can therefore be more useful is therefore more of an EATC-type air transport device, or even the future device for helicopters mentioned by Pieter de Crem at the conclusion of the meeting (3).

(1) Read also: Earthquake in Haiti: A battlegroup must-he went ?
(2) (Slightly) more flexible battle groups
(3) The "Ghent framework"

(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).