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EATT 2013: everything is offered, nothing is imposed...

SARA(BRUSSELS2 to Zaragoza) What is the purpose of the European Air Transport Training (EATT) organized by the European Defense Agency — whose 2013 exercise ends these days on the Spanish base in Zaragoza? B2 was there to see the exercise and was able to question General Valentin, head of the European Air Transport Command (EATC), in order to get some details.

fill a gap

The objective of EATT - explains the general to us - is " to increase the capacity to work together in the field of tactical transport, in an environment which can be very hostile as can be seen in Afghanistan or Mali ". For this, the European exercise is special.

The only exercise for transport aircraft

« It is the only one in the world to be dedicated to transport. You have similar exercises, particularly in the United States (Red Flag or Mapple Flag). But the transport part is rather an "added" part. The exercise is designed more for combat aircraft. While here in Zaragoza, today, and tomorrow in Bulgaria, the basis is to work around the transport mission which, too, takes part in a general maneuvere ”.

Designed by operational staff

« We contribute to European defence, in a bottom-up way ". For General Valentin, one of the important points is that " these are the specialists, the people in overalls, in uniform, who work in the field which are at the origin of this exercise. " Nobody told them to do that. It was not the politicians who told us to work together. It is the operational staff who clearly see that today it is essential. We can no longer afford to be each in our own corner. »

Budget constraint

This localized exercise in Europe is partly due to the restrictions “ budgetary and human resource constraints ". The EATT is done in Zaragoza because " if you're doing it in Canada or the USA that's fine. But just in the cost of deploying personnel, for two weeks in the USA, in Arizona, you can imagine that we save money by doing it in Madrid ».

The "chilli" of the States

One of the other strengths of the EATT is the place given to the participating States (nine in 2013) in the organization of the event. " CEach country brings its objectives that it wants to see dealt with inns exercise. The goal is to work in a very pragmatic way on the objectives provided by the countries. It's not a job like that where you put your feet under the table. (This formula) is very attractive. We make sure to add spice, when a country realizes during operations for example, that there was a lack. The improvement of the process is done at the discretion of the countries. Everyone has their own voice. The success of the exercise also depends on the ability to adapt during the exercise, depending on the weather or if the exercises were not well done by the crews, to give them the opportunity to do it again. It is this didactic side that is extraordinary."

On the menu...

" The "à la carte" concept is thus important. EATT “It's not a rigid and stereotyped set, the same for everyone, in which you have to put yourself, whatever your level. Everyone can find what they want and can contribute to fulfill their own objectives.. » Differences between participants must be taken into account. " There are countries used to working in the Red or Mapple Flag exercises and others less like the Swedes, who are very interested in this concept. Because they haven't had much opportunity to work in this context. ". Basically, the rule is: nothing imposed. Everything is offered. And everyone comes to get what they want. (...) Iinterest of this exercise (is also to) ensure that those who are used to working together can go as far as possible but also to others who wish to join this initiative, to get up to speed and get involved ».

Realistic: dealing with threats

« This year, one of the main axes is to ensure that the environment in which the exercise takes place, that is to say the threat whether it is on the ground or in the air, is the most realistically possible. (Thereby), the exercise attempts to reproduce what is happening today in Mali or what can be found in Afghanistan or other, ground missile, radar.... This is important today for countries. “In a context of fiscal contraction, “ every hour of flight is very expensive. It is a question of exploiting at best and making the best use of the resources that the countries put in these exercises, if we want these exercises to prepare them at best for the missions of tomorrow. ».

(Thomas LeBihan)

To be continued : Under the planes of the mechanics

Thomas LeBihan

Student in "Public Affairs European Governance course" at Paris I. Intern at B2. Follows the news of the European Parliament.

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