Rapid Reaction Force: What's the point in a European army?
24 June 2010
For the first time in 2011, Sweden will assume command of Nordic Battlegroup 2, one of the 18 battlegroups that make up the European Rapid Reaction Force. The battlegroups are supposed to maintain readiness for deployment within ten days and a four month tour of duty in conflict zones. Most of their missions, which mainly involve providing assistance to civilian populations, are authorised by a mandate from the UN. However, Dagens Nyheter reports that Nordic Battlegroup 1, which was created in 2007 and placed under Swedish command, was never deployed. Although Europe's battlegroups "are an ideal force for the protection of populations, or the halting of ethnic cleansing," their deployment is often blocked by a lack of political will, and member states' reluctance to provide troops. The daily concludes that the idea of a "rapid" reaction force will remain a misnomer because "the UN is too slow and ponderous, and the United States follows its own agenda."