Monday, June 04, 2007

I didn't say it was easy!

I did say that the availability of the internet allowed you to do your own fact-checking. But that doesn't mean that it is any easier to put together a coherent picture.

For instance, take the Booker column yesterday, which tells us that the MoD is pulling back from the European Rapid Reaction Force, and gradually re-aligning its policy to deal with the current insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then look at another piece in the Sunday Telegraph that tells us that the ERRF is a "farce". We thus learn that Gen Henri Bentegeat (pictured), the Frenchman who oversees the force's military operations, has admitted that it would struggle to intervene anywhere in the near future. Despite the continuing fighting in Darfur and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, the battle groups have not been deployed once.

Now go to DefenseNews and find that the EU's Operations Centre will be declared officially operational in the first half of June. Staffed by 76 military and 13 civilian planners, it is intended to enable the European Union to plan and run autonomous military and joint civilian-military operations in the absence of a leading national headquarters.

It also appears that Javier Solana is to recommend that the EU Military Staff (EUMS) headquarters in Brussels should increase its current staff of 200 or its technical capabilities, making the European Security and Defence Policy one of the EU's biggest policy-growth areas.

Finally, pick up on a Reuters' report which tells us that France is asking its European Union "partners" to consider sending a force of up to 12,000 troops to Chad to provide aid for people fleeing the Darfur conflict in Sudan.

So, Britain is detaching itself from the ERRF, its commanding general, Gen Henri Bentegeat, is saying that it is not ready for operations, Solana is looking to beef up its headquarters and the French want the force to deploy in Sudan.

About as clear a mud, I reckon.


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