LESSONS IDENTIFIED FROM BATTLEGROUPS INITIAL
Letter from Rt Hon John Reid MP, Secretary
of State, Ministry of Defence to the Chairman
You wrote to Douglas Alexander, Minister for
Europe, on 19 December 2005
requesting a number of documents referred to in the UK Presidency
ESDP Report. The request for the documents related to Battlegroups
has been referred to me as the Ministry of Defence leads on the
military capability aspects of ESDP.
Please find attached the paper on "Lessons
Identified from Battlegroups Initial Operational Capability".
This summarises and explains the initial lessons identified following
the period, 1 Jan-30 Jun 05, in which the UK Battlegroup was on
The updated Battlegroups roadmap which you requested
has not yet been completed by the EU Military Staff. As soon as
Member States have agreed it, I will forward you an unclassified
27 January 2006
UK EU BATTLEGROUP IOC COMMITMENT JANUARY-JUNE
2005: LESSONS IDENTIFIED
1. The Interim Operating Capability (IOC)
for the EU Battlegroup Concept was initiated on 1 Jan 05. The
UK provided a BG for the period 1 January-30 June 2005, alongside
France. The BG was not deployed, but as this was the first commitment
to a new EU concept, the UK initiated an internal review which
identified a number of lessons, both external and internal. These
lessons are offered to all MS as part of the ongoing process to
refine and develop the BG concept and to assist with their own
preparations for standby.
2. The UK commitment involved the Department
for International Organisations (DPIO-MOD Policy), the Directorate
of Joint Commitments (DJC-MOD Commitments), and the Permanent
Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) which supported and prepared to activate
the potential OHQ; Options for the FHQ existed from differing
with force elements provided from within the respective formation
3. Common Understanding. Because the BG
commitment was a new concept and a new commitment, wider understanding
of its rationale and implications was not as good as it might
have been both within the UK Armed Forces as a whole and within
the MOD. A programme is required to foster better understanding,
dealing with its raison d'e¤tre, the range of tasks involved
(TEU Article 17) and a broader understanding of EU strategic and
operational planning processes, This programme needs to deal with
both the specialist requirements of strategic/operational planners
and the broader needs of the Armed Forces in general and might
include wider participation in seminars, workshops and similar
activities as well as ensuring that knowledge of the BG concept
is promulgated in teaching and educational establishments.
4. Lesson. A broader understanding of the
BG concept is required across UK Defence. A. programme is required
to ensure this occurs as appropriate at all levels.
5. Communication. Links between EUMS and
UK proved adequate, although the efficacy of the CIS link between
EU and potential OHQ was not tested under busy conditions. It
became apparent during the standby period however that UK and
EUMS Liaison Officers (LOs) would play a vital part in the early
stages of a potential deployment. Some work is required to ensure
that plans for a liaison officer matrix and its manning are developed
for activation during a potential deployment.
6. Lesson: Liaison Officers will play a
vital part in facilitating the deployment of a BG. It is recommended
that the ECAP HQ PG examines the requirement for LOs and makes
7. EU BG Preparation"Document
Pack". Although all MS have access to the relevant documents
underpinning the BG concept, there would be merit in formalising
a "document pack" to ensure a common understanding of
the task, continuity between BGs on handover of standby and to
lessen the opportunity for misunderstanding and error. This pack
might include the key BG documents, notes on EU crisis management,
the latest iteration of the Watchlist, and any other up to date
papers to set the scene for the standby period, such as agreed
recent EU CFSP statements. The pack would be a living compilation,
which in due course might include lessons identified from previous
BG standbys/deployments. It is envisaged that the updated pack
would be issued by the EUMS to each MS (not direct to BGs) before
it assumed its standby responsibilities.
8. Lesson: The possibility of the EUMS issuing
a BG pack to MS before each BG commitment should be explored,
with a view to formalising procedures and ensuring a common and
up to date understanding of tasks before the assumption of a BG
9. Sister BG MODs. During this first IOC
period there were 2 EU BGs on standby. During Full Operating Capability
(FOC) this will become routine. The BGs are designed to be stand-alone
forces. However this should not preclude the standby BG MODs from
regular liaison with each other to exchange ideas and familiarise
each other with like capabilities from other MS. Ways of improving
liaison should be explored with a view particularly to improving
a common understanding of the tasks and feeding off the experience
10. Lesson: Liaison between the MODs of
nations with BGs on standby should be established as a matter
of routine so as to share experience and foster a common understanding
of likely tasks.
11. Assuming a BG standby commitment requires
the establishing of clear points of contact within the UK MOD
Policy and Commitments areas. Although this occurred, the POCs
were not promulgated to all interested parties, with the result
that advice was not always sought from the appropriate quarter.
For future BG commitments, a clear MOD POC should be established
and promulgated to PJHQ, Fleet, Strike and Land Commands.
12. Lesson: Assumption of a BG commitment
requires the establishment and promulgation of an MOD expert POC.
13. Although sufficient Strategic Lift was
identified for the BG throughout the period of IOC, maintaining
this in the face of other commitments remained a challenge. This
issue was particularly relevant during the deployment of the UK
Ready Battalion to Kosovo in March 2005. This short notice movement
requirement impacted heavily on aircraft availability within the
charter market. Over this period, deployment of the EU assigned
BG would have required careful prioritisation of resources.
14. Lesson: Identifying sufficient strategic
lift to sustain a BG throughout its duty period is one of the
most challenging aspects of such a commitment. This is likely
to be the case for all MS and is an aspect that requires particular
attention, especially during periods of concurrent activity.
OHQ AND FORCE
15. During the UK standby period it became
apparent that the OHQ required to oversee a BG deployment could
be smaller than that required for other larger deployments. The
current "one size fits all" approach to the design of
an EU OHQ therefore requires examination. Some redesigning is
necessary to ensure that relevant augmentees are identified and
that any smaller number meets the notice requirements of rapid
reaction, particularly concerning the timely and effective integration
of the MN and EU elements. It is suggested that the EU HQ Project
Group examines this issue and makes recommendations.
16. Lesson: The generic OHQ requirements
of an EU BG deployment require re-examination. The EU OHQ could
potentially be smaller, but it must also meet the needs of rapid
reaction. The EU OHQ PG should examine this issue and make recommendations.
17. PJHQ retains responsibility for the
adequate preparation of UK forces for potential EU BG deployments
and provides the key nucleus for the potential OHQ. In this instance,
PJHQ was therefore responsible (as it is for all UK force deployments)
for ensuring that all relevant measures were in place to facilitate
a successful standby. Key elements were:
(a) Direct liaison was established between
force elements and the coordinating authority over force elements
vested in the potential Force Comd, from as early as the 6-month
point (including an exchange of POC details).
(b) Force Generation exercises and rehearsals
(c) Logistic planning was conducted, including
the identification of sustainment stocks.
(d) Force element planning was conducted
(where detailed numbers for personnel, weapons, vehicles, etc
(e) Assembly / deployment exercises and rehearsals
were conducted (including all procedures up to departure from
(f) Pre-emptive pre-deployment training was
conducted (by means of a generic package, tailored to "more
likely" op destinationstailoring informed by Watchlist).
Training consisted of staff and HQ training CPXs (against scenarios
drawn from Watchlist docs) as well as FTX-type activity as well
as familiarisation training between the staffs at all levels (PJHQ,
(g) Appropriate precautionary medical, dental,
moral and welfare preparations were conducted.
18. Lesson: The preparation requirements
for a BG standby period are similar to those for any other short-notice
standby, and cannot be conducted by the BG in isolation. The potential
OHQ needs to be involved at an early stage to ensure that appropriate
preparations for BG standby have been made to meet the requirements
of rapid reaction.
19. Lesson: Prior identification and rehearsal
of the OHQ, the Op Comd and his Op Staff is likely to have a significant
effect on early performance.
20. The Force was satisfied with the range
of BG-related material received, although the adoption of a more
formal mechanism would have saved time and engendered confidence
that all relevant issues had been addressed (para 7 and lesson
21. Gaps in understanding referred to in
para 3 (lesson at para 4) were most apparent at Force level and
below where the novel aspects of BG standby and differences between
this and other standby commitments were initially not well understood.
Particular efforts to foster a broader understanding are required
at this level.
Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon John
Thank you for your letter dated 27 January 2006
providing the document "Lessons Identified from Battlegroups
Initial Operational Capability". Sub-Committee C considered
this letter at its meeting on 9 February.
We look forward to receiving the updated Battlegroups
roadmap. The continued development of the Battlegroups remains
an issue in which we take a close interest.
We noted the absence of any mention of a standardised
testing process for the operational readiness of a Battlegroup.
Could you provide more information on how a Battlegroup, whether
from the UK or another Member State, is considered ready for operational
activity on a mission.
14 February 2006
Letter from Rt Hon John Reid MP to the
Thank you for your letter dated 14 February
2006 regarding the EU Battlegroups Roadmap and the testing procedures
The EU Battlegroups Roadmap, which is agreed
in committee by all member states, is published six-monthly, usually
in January and July and sets the work schedule to take forward
the Concept for the period following. January's Roadmap this year
was slightly delayed in order to take into account the outcome
of discussions which were held in Brussels on 31 January 2006.
The new Roadmap was agreed and distributed on 13 February 2006
and an unclassified summary is enclosed at annex.
The Battlegroups Concept has been instrumental
in persuading some nations to shoulder greater responsibilities
under the ESDP and to transform their military structures and
capabilities in the process. Of the four main elements of existing
work you have already received from me a summary of the Lessons
identified paper from the UK Battlegroup standby period, the basis
of which is being used for the EU Military Committee lessons identified
work from standby period 1. It is important that we continue the
lessons identified exercise so that we are able to improve with
experience. For this reason work will begin to examine the experience
of the Italian Battlegroup in standby period 2.
The work on Battlegroups reserves is designed
to understand the principles and procedures that should be adopted
if, after a Battlegroup has been deployed, there is a need for
reinforcement. The Government view is that each Battlegroup should
arrange suitable reserves for itself before it begins its standby
duty. This should be carried out through national or bilateral
agreements between the members of the Battlegroup.
The Government believes it is essential that
there is good alignment and cooperation with NATO. Indeed the
Battlegroups concept might be a good stepping stone for some nations
to be involved in the NATO Response Force. Cooperation with the
UN is also key to ensure that there is good understanding of how,
and under which circumstances a Battlegroup could be deployed.
Equally the Government believes that work to understand how the
Battlegroups concept could fit within civil-military coordination
needs to be explored, for example to understand how Battlegroups
will interface with civilian security sector reform. Much of the
"Possible new work" outlined in the Roadmap stems from
initiatives made under the UK Presidency and hence, the government
remains hugely supportive of this programme.
You raised a question about a "standardised
testing process for the operational readiness of a Battlegroup".
Work on this issue is still evolving. The UK has been involved
from the beginning with the construction of the EU Battlegroups
Standards and Criteria and many of its principles stem from our
ideas and processes which are compliant with NATO. We are now
starting to work on the detail but until this has been agreed
member states are responsible for their own certification but
may, of course, call upon the European Defence Agency or the EU
Military Staff to assist them.
24 February 2006
Unclassified Summary of the EUMC Roadmap
1. The Roadmap summarises three different
strands of work as follows.
2. Existing work. The following issues from
on the former roadmap remain in progress:
(a) EU Military Committee Lessons Identified
from the 1st standby period.
(b) Battlegroup Reserves.
(c) Co-operation with NATO (NATO Response
Force) and UN.
(d) Civ-Mil co-ordination.
3. New work. The following items need to
be addressed in 2006:
(a) Experience on preparation and standby
period 2005-02. By April 2006, Italy might share its experience
on the preparation of the Italian BG. This issue should be taken
forward in conjunction with the UK Lessons Identified paper.
(b) BG Co-ordination Conference (BGCC) 1/06.
The 3rd BGCC is planned for 3 May 2006. A key issue is likely
to be the identification and confirmation of BGs for 2009.
4. Possible additional new work. The following
further areas of work might be considered during the next semester:
(a) Editorial review of the BG Concept. The
aim of the editorial review is to compile one comprehensive document
based on the BG Concept and its annexes. To do so, some text could
be adapted, but the BG Concept as such will not change.
(b) Assessing the need for and feasibility
of producing media products. The aim of this assessment would
be to identify possible media products to further support the
implementation and common understanding of the BG Concept.
(c) Full Operating Concept (FOC) event. In
relation to the previous area of work, the desire for having a
FOC event at the end of 2006/beginning of 2007 should be assessed.
Main players in this area of work are the future Finnish and German
Presidency. However, if assessed useful, work has to start early
(d) Further consideration. Discussions during
the Czech Battlegroups Seminar 3-4 November 2005 and the UK Battlegroups
Workshop 8-9 December 2005 led to the need for further consideration
of Crisis Management Procedures and Advance Military-Strategic
67 Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session
2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 280. Back
Formation HQ included HQ 16 Air Assault Bde (Airborne Task Force)
and HQ 3 Cdo Bde (Lead Commando) with the Joint Force HQ also
available to command the Spearhead Lead Element (SLE). Back
Such recommendations should be without prejudice to the need
for the Op Comd to retain the ability to tailor the structure
of the OHQ according to the scale and complexity of the operation. Back