Blog AnalysisPSDC crisis managementMissions OperationsReport

Why Larisa?

OhqLarissaCoat of arms 14.24.36a(BRUSSELS2 in Larissa) This is the nagging question: why did you choose a Headquarters located so far from the field for the EUFOR RCA operation? Why Greece, Why not Brussels? Answers….

Why is the operating district necessary?

The reason is simple and twofold. The operation headquarters (or OHQ) does not manage the operation directly, the forces on the ground. This is the role of a force headquarters (or FHQ), which is located on the ground, in Bangui, at the airport, as close as possible to these men.

The Operations HQ has a more strategic aim. This involves managing finances, legal and political issues, analyzing external intelligence from sources other than the field, preparing rotations of equipment, men, food, etc. All of this can be managed. anywhere. But especially not on the ground. He " is to free the force commander » of everything that does not concern precisely the action itself, an officer explains to us.

This is also a general practice in all multinational operations. The headquarters for NATO operations is thus located in Mons (in Belgium). That of the anti-piracy operation (NATO and EU) is in Northwood, near a charming wood in the London suburbs. France runs its operations from a basement in the 7th arrondissement or at Mont-Valérien, in the Paris suburbs. As for the African command of the US Air Force and US Army, it is… in Germany, near Stuttgart. So it's not really an anomaly.

Why did you choose Greece?

Quite simply, because Greece presides over the European Union. And that the Greek government made this proposal. Its operations headquarters (OHQ) in Larissa, although certified and compliant, has never been used, unlike the 4-5 other headquarters used by the European Union (Paris, London, Potsdam, Rome and Mons – Shape) . And for Greece, it is a very strong, very important symbol of its return to European normality. Like what is happening in terms of economic recovery, Athens wants to regain, if not its past glory, at least its full place. And not that of the permanent cripple who marked her during these last six long years when the budgetary and economic crisis was wreaking havoc.

Why not in Brussels?

This is indeed a problem. The European Union does not – unlike most major “military” countries and NATO – have a permanent headquarters. Which would make things easier and less open to discussion. The fault is not the Europeans. It rests on the Member States, particularly one of them, the United Kingdom, which stubbornly refused almost a year ago now to take the next step, having a small permanent HQ in Brussels. “Too much Europe” he pleaded. And that would “duplicate” with NATO. As a result, there is not one duplicate… but five!

Is it all pink?

No, actually. If indeed, we can command from anywhere, with modern means of satellites, internet and telephone, an operation, the big handicap of the Greek command, is to be quite far from everything. Reaching Brussels takes several hours, while it only takes a good 2 hours to travel from Paris and 3 hours from London (door to door). As for going to the Central African Republic, there is no direct line, you have to go through Stuttgart or Paris or other capitals. In short, minimum 1 or 2 days of travel for the operation commander.

(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).