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EU plans ‘rapid response’ reaction force for military interventions after Afghanistan evacuation

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EU plans ‘rapid response’ response force for military interventions after Afghanistan fall and chaotic US-led evacuation

  • EU leaders debate 5,000-strong armed forces from willing countries in the bloc
  • Calls for stronger EU military capabilities have grown in the US and Europe
  • But some are resistant to fears that an EU army will strengthen the ‘superstate’










The EU plans a 5,000-strong rapid response response force for military interventions in the aftermath of Afghanistan’s chaotic evacuation.

Calls for the 27-nation bloc to develop its own joint military capability to respond quickly to crises in the wake of the chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport after the Taliban seized power grew.

EU Foreign Affairs Director Josep Borrell said: “Afghanistan has shown that shortcomings in our strategic autonomy come at a price and that the only way forward is to join forces and not only our capacity but also our will to act.” to reinforce.

The EU plans a 5,000-strong rapid response response force for military interventions in the aftermath of Afghanistan’s chaotic evacuation. In the photo: Taliban fighters in Kabul

“If we want to be able to act autonomously and not be dependent on the choices of others, even if those others are our friends and allies, then we have to develop our own capabilities.”

One of the proposals is a plan, first broadcast in May, to create a 5,000-strong force as part of a review of the EU’s overall strategy to be presented in draft form in November.

But the proposal has not yet received EU-wide support, and there are serious doubts about the political will to deploy such a force. For example, the bloc has never used a system of so-called battle groups that it set up in 2007.

A rapid reaction force is considered more likely now that Britain has left the bloc.

Britain, one of Europe’s major military powers alongside France, was skeptical of collective defense policy.

“The EU and its Member States must carry a greater weight in the world – to defend our interests and values ​​and protect our citizens,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote in an online post.

‘The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan forces us to think more honestly about European defence.’

Slovenian Defense Minister Matej Tonin – whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency and hosted the meeting at the state-owned Brdo Castle estate northwest of the capital Ljubljana – estimated that a rapid reaction force could exist from ‘5,000 to 20,000’ men.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell (pictured) said the EU should 'join our forces' and 'develop our own capabilities'

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell (pictured) said the EU should ‘join our forces’ and ‘develop our own capabilities’

He called for a new system that would send troops from ‘wanting countries’ on behalf of the EU if only a majority of member states agreed, rather than the unanimity required for battlegroups.

In Washington, President Joe Biden’s administration said it would welcome such a force, which comes after years of US pressure on NATO allies to shoulder more of the burden by increasing military spending.

“We continue to believe that a stronger, more capable Europe is in our shared interest,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

“If the democracies that make up the EU stick together, they are a tremendous force for a stable and open international order.”

But he said the European Union and NATO should work together to “avoid duplication and possible waste of scarce resources.”

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the lesson from Afghanistan was that Europe must be able to “act more independently” to be a credible player.

But she insisted ‘it is very important that we do not act as an alternative to NATO and the Americans’.

She appeared to oppose the idea of ​​a standing force, saying on Twitter that “coalitions of the willing” among member states could come together to deal with future crises.

Latvian minister Artis Pabriks said the bloc had to show it had the “political will” to use force if the plan went anywhere.

He noted that the battlegroup program has been around for more than a decade as part of the EU’s common defense policy, but asked, ‘Have we ever used it?’

The discussion has been going on for decades about the role that Brussels should play in the field of defence. EU member states – most of which are also NATO allies – have often been reluctant to agree on steps to integrate military capabilities.

Common defense ambitions have picked up steam in recent years, partly due to the departure from Britain’s bloc, which opposed anything that could lead to a European army or reduced support for NATO.

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