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A neighbor threatened with stability asks for help… Exercise

(B2) A neighboring country threatened with stability, several European countries under attack apparently separate but in reality well coordinated... This is the scenario of the important crisis management exercise, which the Union is launching today European and NATO

Coping with a complex crisis of a hybrid nature

This exercise, called in military terminology “EU-HEX-ML 18 (PACE)” (1), aims to improve the EU's capacity to “ in the face of a complex crisis of a hybrid nature comprising an internal dimension and an external dimension ". Let us clarify straight away that this is not a real exercise, with deployment of men and equipment on the ground, but a staff exercise, intended to test the politico-military reaction circuits. , and that it involves civilian structures as much (or even more) than military structures proper.

Any resemblance to existing or previously existing facts is not entirely coincidental.

Neighboring country threatened with stability appeals to EU for help

The scenario, as in all these types of exercises, is both imaginary but also very close to certain past realities. The country attacked is not “ so far from the European Union confides a European source. He faces " to a major security threat "which compromises" its stability » and asked for help from the European Union. The Europeans are therefore considering deploying an assistance or stabilization mission under the CSDP [the common security and defense policy].

Different simultaneous events

At the same time, various attacks of a hybrid nature are taking place in several Member States: cyber attacks, health threats, risk of energy supply cuts, dissemination of false news. Of the " seemingly unconnected events » but which intervene almost simultaneously, and all seem linked to the European desire to stabilize this country...

Everyone will have recognized it, we think a lot about Russia and Ukraine, the cyberattacks on official sites, the Salisbury attack or the threats to cut gas pipelines to Russian gas client countries.

Everyone on the bridge !

This is the first time that the European Union has conducted a crisis management and response exercise of this scale. It will involve, in fact, not only military specialists, but all the European services and systems which have to manage crises. No less than 14 directorates general (DGs) of the European Commission are thus mobilized, as are the European Border Guard Corps (Frontex) in Warsaw and Europol in The Hague, or the European civil protection mechanism. At the diplomatic and politico-military level, the EU crisis unit aka IPCR (2), the ambassadors and military representatives of the 28 Member States (3) are on deck. NB: Two non-EU countries are participating in the exercise: Norway (third country) and Switzerland (observer).

An exercise coordinated with NATO

This exercise is being conducted in parallel with a NATO staff command post exercise. The objective is to test the interactions between the two organizations in terms of situation awareness, cyberreaction, crisis management or strategic communication in crisis situations. Such a 'parallel and coordinated' exercise was carried out for the first time in 2017 (4), with NATO leading the exercise and the European Union leading a smaller exercise in parallel. This year, it’s the opposite, it’s “ the EU which mobilizes its instruments and NATO which is the guest explains a senior European diplomat, a bit proud.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. MLH = Multi Layer Exercise – PACE = Parallel and Coordinated Exercise (NATO-EU)
  2. The European Union has a crisis response mechanism (IPCR ou Integrated political crisis response), a sort of European counterpart to the 'crisis units' of national foreign ministries. It makes it possible to coordinate a response at the political level between the 28, such as consular protection, concerted evacuation of citizens, etc.
  3. Gathered respectively within the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and the EU Military Committee (EUMC).
  4. The EU and NATO had decided to intensify their cooperation in both areas – hybrid and exercises, in the joint EU-NATO declarations in July 2016 and July 2018.

Updated 21.11 – Details provided on the IPCR system

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).