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[Blog News] The European Union's first Livex exercise. Ships, planes, special forces in action (v2)

(B2) A third country has requested EU assistance. The Europeans decide to intervene. You have to land on a beach, secure a port, then advance by land.

This is the scenario that some 16 soldiers from nine Member States (Austria, Spain, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania) have been playing out since yesterday (Monday October 2800) off the coast of Cadiz in Spain.

Goal : " simulate entry into a non-permissive theater to protect and defend the interests of EU nationals » as the French Navy explains.

A test of future rapid deployment capability

The exercise takes place on land, sea and air, mobilizing ships, helicopters and even two Spanish Eurofighter planes, near the La Rota base. With a strategic command located in Brussels. Challenge of this first military exercise (Milex 23) which will last until October 22: test on a full-scale basis what the EU's future rapid deployment capacity could be in an “initial stabilization phase” scenario. With real personnel on the ground: hence the name Livex 23 (1). All of this is partly financed by the European Peace Facility.

Soldiers from nine countries

At sea, six ships participated in this exercise: the amphibious assault ship Juan Carlos I (L-61), the amphibious transport ship Castilla (L-52) and the frigate Numancia (F-83), Spanish side, the helicopter carrier Thunder (L-9014) and the minehunter Southern Cross (M-646) French side and the Portuguese frigate Francisco de Almeida. On board, a Spanish landing battalion, a French tactical sub-group, a section of the famous Italian 'San Marco' brigade, a section of Marines (Portuguese marines) and a Maltese medical team.

On land, a Canary Brigade tactical group, an Austrian infantry platoon, a French sapper company, Romanian and Hungarian explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams and a Hungarian air traffic control team played their role. -tactical (TACP). With for special operations: a Spanish team and an Irish team.

In the air, in addition to the drones now classic in engagement, Romanian and French helicopters, two Spanish Eurofighter planes, Portuguese and French maritime patrol planes, as well as a command and control element of the Spanish Air and Space Force.

Next financial year: in Germany

A demonstration in the presence of the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, the President of the EU Military Committee, General Robert Brieger, and some other senior officers, including the Spanish Chief of Defense Staff ( JEMAD), Admiral General Teodoro E. López Calderón. The next exercise will take place in Germany in the second half of 2024. With a scenario built around a rescue and evacuation operation or a mission to support humanitarian assistance and relief after a disaster. The ambition still remains to have a rapid deployment capacity operational in 2025, as decided by the 27 by adopting their Strategic Compass in March 2022.

Comment: a great feat

The only regret is a few hundred nautical miles away, this force could have played another role, facing Israel and Gaza, if only to help evacuate existing Europeans, or if necessary provide a demonstration of presence. It would have had a lot of interest, power and panache. Capacity is often best built through trial by fire.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, with OJ)

  1. There has already been another Livex in Spain, in April 2018, to “certify” the Rota headquarters. But it did not have the same dimension in terms of resources and men involved, as well as participating countries.

updated – with details of participating forces (Air, Land, Sea)

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