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In the skin of a battlegroup. Slovenians on call this semester

(B2 in Ljubljana) While the very existence of battlegroups is under pressure, they are only waiting for a political sign to be deployed

Slovenian forces are currently on call in one of the European Union battlegroups (© AP / B2)

The future of battle groups, these rapid reaction forces of the European Union, has been at the center of the European debate for several months. The reason: they have never been deployed to respond to any crisis whatsoever. Which means in the eyes of some, that they are simply useless. Latest idea (from last May): to set up a “first entry force”, which would be more permanent between certain countries (read: Let's create a European entry force first! 14 states are for). In the meantime, the battle groups of the European Union continue to apply. They train, qualify to start in case. B2 left to meet the Slovenian troops, on call since last July in the battlegroup commanded by the Italians.

A multinational force between neighbors

In principle, there is always a force ready to be deployed for the military needs of the European Union (see box). They are simply not always made up of the same nations, strengths and capabilities. On the base of Vojašnica Edvarda Peperka, in Ljubljana, it is the 10th motorized brigade of the 1st brigade which constitutes the central element of the Slovenian participation. Together with Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy, they form a European Union battlegroup, which is based on an agreement between the participants (a Memorandum of understandings). The countries also signed a technical agreement between the participants regarding the training and the use of battle groups.

One of the soldiers of the 10th motorized brigade (© AP / B2)

One year mobilization...

The battlegroups alternate every six months. Each January and July, a new coalition takes over the rotation. But in fact, the battle group mobilizes efforts well beyond the six-month rotation.

The Multinational Land Force – which took over in July 2021 – is a good illustration of this. The first meeting took place in July 2020 (initial conference) with the senior military representatives of each country, one year before the start of the rotation. Other meetings followed. In December 2020, a force training roadmap was developed.

...Six months of preparation

From January to May 2021, i.e. six months before the mobilization, all the personnel of the battle group follow the same training, each at home. These five intense months are punctuated by no less than three exercises. In June, the battlegroup spends a “ validation ". It takes the form of a 14-day exercise, carried out in Italy, the battlegroup's leading country.

Each country provides both troops, but also equipment and different capacities (© AP / B2).

...Then six months of 'stand-by'

July 1, 2021 is back to school. The semester in stand-by begins. On the program: training after training! Above all, don't lose shape. In October, an additional exercise will take place, with three aspects: military mobility, disaster relief (disaster relief), in cooperation with civilian institutions, and the military operation.

The interest for the armies

For some, the battle groups represent a waste of resources and time. But for an informed observer, participating in battle groupits " a great opportunity for the troops ". And this for different reasons, details an officer: “ the training is more intense than usual, the personnel have a concrete goal to work towards, the troops are preparing to defend a cause greater than their single nation ". In addition, from the point of view of European defence, " they work on the interoperability of armies with their partners. Battlegroup work contributes to deterrence “adds another. All that's missing is a political decision to see them at work, on the ground this time.

(Aurelie Pugnet)

What is a battlegroup? The battle groups represent an infantry battalion size force, reinforced with a combat support element'support fight' (CS) and a Combat Support Service (CSS). The whole must make at least 1500 personnel (sometimes more). Each battlegroup has a Force Headquarters (FHQ), which can also be deployable. The concept of battlegroups has reached its operational capacity since 2007. The decision to deploy the battle groups belongs to the ministers of the Member States (Council of the European Union). They can be deployed in five days, in an area that goes 6000 kilometers around Brussels. They have ten days to be operational in theatre, for an initial commitment of 30 days, which can be extended to 120 days.

Read our fact sheet: The GT 1500 or battlegroups. A great idea never put into practice

B2 Writing

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