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Observatory on European defence, February 2008


12 February 2008
ESDP mission in Guinea Bissau

On February 12, the Council approved the Joint Action establishing the ESDP mission in support of Security Sector Reform in Guinea Bissau (EU SSR Guinea Bissau). The mission, focused on the systems of armed forces, police and judiciary, will have an initial mandate for one year with a staff composed of 15 civilians and military experts and a funding of 5.65 million euro.

18 February 2008 
EU General Affairs and External Relations Council - ESDP missions: Chad/Sudan, Kosovo

Ministers confirmed the neutrality of the mandate for the Eufor-Chad/RCA, EU military operation in eastern Chad and the northeast of the Central African Republic, given the suspicions of favouritism towards French interests raised by the opposition in Chad. The mission is part of the multidimensional presence established by Security Council resolution 1778 (2007), concerning deployment of the UN MINURCAT mission, and authorising the use of force, under Chapter VII of the United Nation Charter. Tasks include: protecting civilians and UN personnel involved in the region, as well as facilitating access for humanitarian aid and movement of people. Direct effects also concern management of the crisis in Sudan, where the African Union (AU) AMIS II mission has been taken over by UNAMID (peace mission hybrid UN/AU) as of January 1. The ministers at the EU Council once again urged the Sudanese government to see to its full deployment.
Deployment of Eufor-Chad/RCA is difficult and was halted from February 1 to 12 because of clashes between rebels and government forces. The force should become operational in mid March and should reach full operation in June (over 4000 units).
The Council has launched an appeal for dialogue to all parties involved, which should allow for a peaceful political process leading to legislative elections in 2009.
In this situation, on June 18 the Council for the first time approved the concept of guiding State as regards consular matters by in order to improve the protection of EU citizens in the event of crisis in third countries, particularly those that have no on site national representation: in fact, France has evacuated about 1200 citizens of 12 member states and third countries, making up a total of about 60 nationalities.
The ministers met one day after Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence: the choice of whether or not to recognise the new state is left up to the member states on a bilateral basis. The EU took note of the declaration and was pleased that the people of Kosovo commit themselves to respect the principles of democracy and respect for minorities. Meanwhile, on February 4 the Common Action underlying the deployment of the ESDP civilian mission to restore the rule of law in the police, justice and customs areas (Eulex Kosovo) was adopted unanimously (with the sole abstention of Cyprus). The force was launched on February 16 on the basis of a no objection/assent procedure: deployment will take 120 days and after 4 more months, the EU mission will replace the UN UNMIK mission. For the first 16 months, the approximately 1,900 policemen and judges and the 1,100 local staff personnel will receive a financing of 250 million euro.
The ministers reiterated the EU's willingness to take a long-term lead in maintaining stability in the region and possibly achieving the accession of the Western Balkans. The Commission should adopt concrete measures for the economic and political development of the area.

February 2008
EU Capabilities - European Defence Agency

The Managerial Committee of the European Defence Agency (EDA) met on 15 February to discuss the development of capabilities for the conduct of ESDP missions. Governments approved two initiatives to boost the development of air and helicopter transport capacity. The first is to set up a "European Air Transport Fleet Project Team" to study the feasibility of a form of joint ownership of the A400M tactical or long-haul transport military aircraft that several EU countries have ordered or planned to order. The second is the continuation of a British initiative for sharing information on the availability of helicopters for missions that should lead to improved availability and cooperation among EU states using the same model helicopter.
The problem was further analysed at the third annual conference, this year on "Commercialising Logistics?" with reference to the role of the private sector, organised by the Agency on February 27. The outsourcing of logistical support to EU military missions has highlighted some advantages: minor frequency of insufficient available assets, optimisation of cost-efficiency and more military personnel available for front-line duties.

February 2008
NATO - Afghanistan and Kosovo, Anti-missile System

The continuing need for the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan in terms of troops, for a greater commitment of allied troops in the south, the main area of operations of the Taliban, and for instructors for local forces, has been stressed on several occasions.
The US Secretary of Defence, Gates, spoke to that effect at the 44th Security Conference (8-10 February), after submitting formal letters - a bilateral procedure not involving, as is the practice, the NATO General Secretary - to Germany, France and Slovenia for a greater commitment in terms of troops and helicopter support.
As is known, the United States recently decided to send 3,200 more troops; since 2006 the total number of ISAF soldiers has risen from 10,000 to about 43,000.
During the informal NATO defence ministers meeting (Vilnius, Lithuania, 7-8 February), the need was underlined for commitment and solidarity among the countries participating in the mission together with support for civilian operations and for the autonomy of the government. Defence ministers also found that the Afghan army started to make some progress in in 2007 in conducting operations independently. Improvements were also registered on the civilian side - for example, in education and infrastructure - but require greater coordination between the actors involved: the EU, United Nations, World Bank, Afghan authorities and third countries.
In Vilnius the ministers also confirmed the validity of UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) as a basis for the mandate of the NATO KFOR mission and the nascent EU Eulex Kosovo mission.
On February 14, NATO inaugurated a special "Integration Test Bed" experimentation structure in The Hague as part of a multi-annual project for protecting NATO forces from missile attacks (ballistic and short-range missiles). The structure should allow for the study of solutions to make U.S. and European system technologies compatible as part of NATO's Theatre Missile Defence System".