EU Battle Group ready for deployment

The exercise European Rhino 2 was a success for the EU Battle Group (EUBG) staff. After exercising for 2 weeks, the unit was certified for deployment during disasters and armed conflicts. The exercise saw the service members being confronted with various scenarios related to military deployment during an ethnic conflict.

A total of 300 service members were involved in the training of the battle group staff in Budel, Netherlands. Through computers, telephone and briefings, the staff officers were continuously presented with problem situations arising from a fictitious ethnic conflict in Africa. The commander of the EUBG, Brigadier General Michiel van der Laan, was satisfied with the way the exercise was conducted.

In early October of this year, European Rhino 1 was held in the Netherlands and Belgium. That exercise focused on military deployment in a disaster or conflict zone. Its combination with European Rhino 2, which was a staff-level exercise, formed the full-dress rehearsal for the EUBG under Dutch leadership.

Autonomous battle group

“All of the participating countries have experience with military missions. And they sent their very best people”, says Van der Laan.“ We can operate independently for up to 120 days. If the problems have not been resolved by then, a follow-up operation with different troops ensues.

Well equipped

Within his unit, Brigadier General Van der Laan has all the necessary military assets at his disposal in the event that an order is issued. “If that happens, the Finns, for instance, will send their best special forces for the operation.” “If” is significant here, for no EUBG has ever been deployed yet. Van der Laan does not want to say that he is itching for action, but: “We are ready for it. And we’re like true tradesmen: we want to do what we're trained for."

Dutch leadership

The EUBG was established in 2005, but this is the first time that the six-monthly rotating Battle Group is led by the Netherlands. Also taking part in this EUBG are Germany, Austria, Finland and Lithuania. In addition to this battle group, the so-called Nordic Battle Group is also in place. This BG is made up of Norwegian, Swedish and Danish forces. Both units can be deployed within 15 days for humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters and (potential) armed conflicts at a maximum distance of 6,000 kilometres from Brussels, the EU capital.