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SECURITY AND DEFENCE : WITH POLISH REINFORCEMENTS, EUROCORPS BECOMES BENCHMARK FORCE.

Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich has decided to make available for the European rapid reaction force (Eurocorps) a brigade of 3,000 soldiers. Poland will thereby become a full member of Eurocorps. For this to happen, an agreement will have to be signed with the organisation's five framework nations' (France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg). This could bring Eurocorps' force, which today includes 60-65,000 soldiers, to nearly 70,000. Poland had already stated its desire to increase its presence as a contributing nation. From three officers in the headquarters, based in Strasbourg, its participation will be increased to 18 people.

Other than Poland, Austria, Greece and Turkey contribute to the Eurocorps headquaters. Three other countries have asked to be considered as contributing countries: Italy, Romania and the USA.

The Polish are not strangers to Eurocorps. The 17th mechanised brigade, based in Miedzyrzeczu (Poland), has already participated in European exercises. However, this implementation remains virtual'. The Polish soldiers remain based in Poland as is the case with most of Eurocorps' soldiers. The sole exception is the Franco-German brigade based in Mulheim (Germany), which is under the direct authority of the Eurocorps headquarters. This brigade is at the centre of the EU battle group in reserve in the second half of 2008.

AN A LA CARTE FORCE

The European armed force is available to both the European Union and NATO. This engagement can take several forms:

- organic, with all or part of the forces posted as a rapid reaction force

- composite, as the hub of a headquarters at tactical, operative level for joint operations.

As one of its officers told Europolitics, the advantage of Eurocorps is its flexibility. "According to the mission and needs, nations make offers," and an a la carte' force is created. In the same way, each country is responsible for appointing the national corps to Eurocorps, which can vary from one moment to the next. The decision to use the European corps also remains within the powers of each government.

Background

Created in 1992 and declared operational in 1995, in 2002 Eurocorps acquired its certification as a NATO high readiness force'. To date, it has only served in the operational framework of the Atlantic organisation: Bosnia and Herzegovina (1998-2000), Kosovo (March-October 2000) and Afghanistan (August 2004-February 2005). Its command rotates every two years, according to an established order, and is held by an army corps general from one of the framework nations'.

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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4EXPO
Date:May 23, 2008
Words:405
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