The EU Battlegroup Concept and the Nordic Battlegroup
Since 1 January 2007, the EU has two battlegroups on standby for six months at a time, following a rotating schedule. The forces can quickly be deployed to a crisis area. As of 1 January 2008, Sweden, together with Finland, Norway, Estonia and Ireland, will be on standby in the Nordic Battlegroup.
The EU Battlegroup Concept
At the 1999 European Council in Cologne, EU Heads of State and Government decided that the Union would develop a capability to prevent and respond to conflicts by deploying civilian and military personnel in peace-support operations. At that time, it was also decided that the capability would be based on national resources. These are voluntarily placed at the disposal of the Union when a consensus decision is taken to carry out an operation. The Battlegroup Concept was agreed in 2004 and since then the work has been taken forward, based on an agreed roadmap.
The Battlegroup Concept calls for two Battlegroups to be on standby at the same time during a six month period, ready to be deployed on two separate operations, if necessary. One or more countries provide Battlegroups following a rotating schedule. The EU Battlegroups have been fully operational since 1 January 2007. During the first half of 2007, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands have one force on standby, while France and Belgium have a second force standing by.
According to the concept, the forces consist of 1 500 soldiers that can be deployed to carry out peace-support, peace-enforcement, evacuation and humanitarian operations. The Battlegroups are to be able to executing their tasks ten days after the EU Council of Ministers has taken a decision to launch an operation. They are to be operational in the deployment area for a maximum of 120 days.
The EU Battlegroup Concept can for example be used for purposes such as reinforcing or supplementing a peace-support operation carried out by the UN. They can also form the first phase of a more extensive peace-support operation by the EU.
The Nordic Battlegroup
Sweden is the Framework Nation of the Nordic Battlegroup, or NBG, which is to be on standby during the first half of 2008. Besides Sweden, the force consists of troops from Finland, Norway, Estonia and Ireland. During the same period, a force led by Spain will also be on standby, except of Spain this force also includes France, Germany and Portugal.
As Framework Nation, Sweden has the overall responsibility for the preparatory work involved with the Nordic Battlegroup. This includes responsibility for both political and military aspects of the cooperation with the other countries. Sweden also contributes the main portion of the force, the core of which is a mechanised infantry battalion.
The infantry battalion can be reinforced with support resources such as engineering, logistics, anti-aircraft, intelligence, transport helicopter, medical or mine clearance units. Should the need arise, combat aircraft with an airbase unit or special forces can also be deployed.
The Nordic Battlegroup is based in Sweden during the training period and while on standby. The force is under the command of Brigadier General Karl Engelbrektsson, with Swedish headquarters and staff officers from each of the participating countries. If an operation is launched, he and his staff will command the force in the theatre.
The Nordic Battlegroup has its Operational Headquarters (OHQ) in Northwood, outside London. The Operational Headquarters is under Swedish command, led by Major General Bengt Andersson. Assisting him are officers from several EU countries. The Operational Headquarters is responsible for operational planning based on the political decisions reached by the Council.
The Nordic Battlegroup forms an important contribution to the EU´s capability to work for international peace and security. For Sweden, this commitment is based on a long tradition of peace-support efforts under the auspices of the UN. Better EU capability for carrying out crisis management and peace-support operations also strengthens the UN.