Lessons learned from the Afghanistan mission: Borrell: EU needs its own reaction force

Lessons from the Afghanistan mission
Borrell: EU needs its own reaction force

The US Army does an amazing job in evacuating Kabul. According to the wishes of the EU foreign affairs officer, Borrell, Europe should also have a rapid reaction force. It could also be used in the fight against terrorism. However, some Europeans rely on an existing alliance.

The events in Afghanistan show, from the point of view of the EU foreign representative Josep Borrell, that the European Union needs its own rapid military reaction force. Borrell is willing to move the discussion forward, said a senior EU official. Such a reaction force could have been used, for example, to secure continued operation of the airport in Kabul for evacuation flights after the withdrawal of the USA.

The previous considerations envisage creating a unit with around 5,000 soldiers who can be relocated to crisis countries within a short period of time. For example, it should also be able to be used in the fight against international terrorism in countries like Mali. Reports that Borrell is aiming for a 50,000-strong unit have not been confirmed. The EU’s crisis reaction forces, which already exist but have never been deployed so far, are planned to ideally be integrated into the new unit. As a rule, they consist of two so-called battle groups, each with around 1,500 soldiers at their core, who are alternately provided by different EU countries.

Germany and around a dozen other countries had already spoken out in favor of setting up a rapid EU reaction force in the spring. Countries like Poland and the Baltic states did not support the plans at the time, however. One reason is that these countries have so far relied primarily on NATO for military and defense issues and fear a possible weakening of the alliance with the USA.

The next discussions on the topic could take place this Wednesday and Thursday in Slovenia. The defense ministers of the EU countries meet there for informal talks. Borrell and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are there.