This is how the rapid deployment force was created:
Deficiencies in the EU’s crisis management led to the Battlegroup concept

About three years ago, Sweden was given the assignment of establishing a completely new unit for international deployment. Since then, the Nordic Battlegroup has grown into something much more than just a military unit – more an engine in the transition of the Armed Forces from defence against invasion to deployment defence.

Photo: Marie Rosenquist/Försvarets bildbyrå

But everything started much earlier. The basis of the EU’s joint foreign and security policy was the Maastricht Treaty, which came into force in 1993. But the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo showed quickly and clearly that the EU did not have the ability of managing crises in its own backyard. It was necessary to develop its own ability for military management of crises.

Joint security policy
Out of this situation grew the EU’s joint security and defence policy. It has been developed as a tool for the EU being able to manage crises more effectively. This applies as regards humanitarian input and rescue input, and also peacekeeping operations and deployment with military forces in handling crises, including peacekeeping measures.

Initially, it was intended to have 60,000 soldiers who could be deployed in a crisis area within 60 days, and maintained there for up to one year.

This ability was summarised in a so-called Headline Goal and established in 1999 in Helsinki. In the following year, in Nice, the main objective was supplemented through the EU’s Military Committee and the EU’s Military Staff was established.

Shorter deployment time
In 2004, the NBG was initiated. Then Headline Goal 2010 was established which involved a number of increased requirements regarding the EU’s military crisis management ability. Perhaps the most important thing was to be able to commence a military crisis management operation as early as within five to ten days after a decision. That is, a much shorter time for operational deployment than was envisaged in 1999.

From this, the EU’s “Battlegroup Concept” was born. The idea was, and is, that these rapid deployment units or combat groups could be deployed in the initial phase of an operation, which is often the difficult period. They should be able to solve assignments through the entire scale of conflicts from pure humanitarian assignments to combat, and during a limited period of time.

Intended for ground combat
The EU defines a Combat Group as “the smallest force that can efficiently, credibly and as an all-round force package, implement operations on its own, or can act in the initial phase of larger operations.

The EU does not specify in detail how a Combat Group shall be constructed, only that it shall have a core consisting of a force of battalion size, intended for ground combat.

It shall also have support and maintenance resources. It shall be multinational and can be established by a leading nation in cooperation with others, or be a coalition of member states.

Member states may also invite non-EU member states to cooperate around a Combat Group. Norway’s participation in the NBG is an example of this.
But it is not sufficient just to have a Combat Group. It must also be commanded and moved to a deployment area. Therefore, it must be connected to a force headquarters and operational and strategic support functions identified in advance, for example, strategic air transport and other logistics.

Tailored input
The Combat Group is intended for a number of possible kinds of deployment. But because it is not possible to know in advance exactly what any deployment will involve, there is also a mechanism for tailoring a Combat Group to the requirements which fit within a specific EU deployment.

This is called the force generation process, and involves the person appointed to be Operational Commander also having the assignment of asking the member states to supply resources, if he considers that this is necessary to be able to solve the assignment in accordance with the EU’s guidelines.

Two groups always prepared
As from 1 January 2007, the EU has two Combat Groups permanently at readiness, six months at a time each.

As from 1 January 2008, Sweden, together with Finland, Estonia, Norway and Ireland, will be responsible for one of the two Combat Groups to be in a state of readiness during the first half of next year. Spain, France, Germany and Portugal will be responsible for the second Combat Group.
The next time it will be Sweden’s turn will be in 2011.

Text: Jonas Svensson

• Helsinki 1999 – The basis of the EU’s joint foreign and security policy was the Maastricht Treaty, which came into force in 1993. But the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo showed that it was necessary to develop one’s own ability for military crisis management. This was summarised in a so-called Headline Goal, which was drawn up at the Union’s meeting in Helsinki on 10-11 December 1999.

• Nice 2000 – At the EU meeting in Nice on 7-8 December 2000, the main objective of the Helsinki meeting was supplemented through the establishment of the EU’s Military Committee and the EU’s Military Staff. In 2004, the Headline Goal 2010 was established which involved a number of intensifications of the requirements of the EU’s military ability to manage crises. From this, the EU’s “Battlegroup Concept” was born.