Discuss the relevance of a European Rapid Reaction Force

"Today's conference in Brussels pledging national troops to a European rapid reaction force is a strongly positive development we wholly support. We welcome today's European Union's Capabilities Commitment Conference as a first step towards making the Headline Goal of a European rapid reaction force a reality and getting the European Security and Defense Identity right. We, along with the other Allies, are working closely with the European Union to make this initiative a success and to create a true strategic partnership between two key Western institutions — NATO and the European Union.

" (U. S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaking on November 20th 2000) The European Rapid Reaction force was initially thought about during the late 1940's, after the signing of the Brussels's treaty. Many of the leaders of Europe at that time knew that an event such as World War II with its monumental loss of life just couldn't happen again. The French and Germans set the ball rolling in 1992 when they created a small force of 1000 troops known as the EuroCorps, as a sign of post cold-war friendship.

However it was the Balkan wars that really gave the spark to Europe to set up a European Rapid Reaction Force. The Balkan wars showed just how much we relied upon America to help us out through NATO, and our inability to solve conflicts ourselves. The U. N was unable to react quick enough to solve these conflicts before they escalated into wars, and the USA was very reluctant to commit any ground troops to the war because they didn't want another Vietnam on their conscience.

As the blame was passed around various organisations, Europe knew that they needed to have their own force to combat tensions and wars in "there own backyard". A European Rapid Reaction Force would be able to respond to these problems in a quick and effective manner, maybe stopping the conflicts before they could escalate into a full scale wars. The European countries are now at a stage where they can provide defence for the countries within the EU, and the idea of having a rapid reaction force does sound very attractive especially as it would mean that the reliance on America would be decreased.

Before I move on to discuss the relevance of a European Rapid Reaction Force, I think we first must know what a European Rapid Reaction Force would do. "Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, spoke this week about dealing with "Europe's back yard". However, the EU agreed that its proposed rapid reaction force could engage in operations ranging from humanitarian and rescue missions to peacekeeping and "tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking". It even envisages "helping to resolve a crisis between two warring countries or factions".

" (Paragraph taken from http://www. mfa. gov. tr/grupb/bb5/archive/2000/11/24112000-03. htm) As we can see the European Rapid Reaction Force isn't just a military force set up to deal with military conflicts, but also a peacekeeping force. As I mentioned earlier it is much better to stop a war before it starts by rooting out the cause of a problem rather than having to deal with a potentially bloody war. It seems as if the Rapid Reaction Force will be very similar to the UN peacekeeping forces that try to keep the peace throughout the world, except that it will concentrate on Europe.

It seems ambitious to have a force that is going to try and combine all of these elements, but as we have seen with the UN, it can be done, and a force like this patrolling Europe would make it a much safer place where the very thought of war is erased out of people's minds. So how relevant is a European Rapid Reaction Force in today's modern society? When this was first talked about back in the late 1940's the prospect of another war was extremely high as the Soviet Union was still considered a major threat to the Western World even though they had helped us win the Second World War.

However the idea of a war that could encompass the whole of Europe like WWII seems quite unthinkable to most of today's modern society. To answer this we must look at the nature of war itself and how it has changed, and also if Europe needs a multi-tasked body to deal with conflicts that arise. After September 11th, the very notion that war had to use a mass of troops on the ground with tanks and destructive weaponry was shattered. The very idea that someone or one group could launch a Terrorist war against a country such as the USA and be so effective never crossed anyone's mind.

The USA retaliated by using conventional war methods to try and bring the perpetrators to justice. It worked in bringing Sadaam Hussein to justice but not Osama Bin Laden. However if we look at this in a European perspective in relation to a Rapid Reaction Force, would it be able to stop these threats happening from militant terrorist groups, and bring the perpetrators to justice? In my opinion I believe that the set up of a European Rapid Reaction would fare better in trying to catch these types of people rather than conventional war methods.

The very name of the force encompasses the word "Rapid" which suggests that it will be able to move rapidly throughout Europe, hopefully not giving the terrorist's time to execute an escape plan before the Rapid Reaction Force has apprehended them. In this respect the relevance of Rapid Reaction Force in today's society seems to be their. We mustn't just look at the idea of small scale wars which is what terrorists seem to promote in their actions, but the idea of a large scale war in Europe as seen in Kosovo. This conflict escalated into a war which had to be solved by using military force primarily from the USA.

This showed Europe that it was not equipped to deal with conflicts happening in its "own backyard", but would a rapid reaction force have solved this matter, and what about NATO and its role? "Basically, what the EU is trying to create is a collective security mechanism through a force that is robust enough to act quickly and effectively in crises, but flexible enough to be deployed in various forms and sizes for a complex range of missions. " (Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for the South East Region and member of the Green/European Free Alliance Group of the European Parliament)

In respect to the Kosovo war, the relevance of a European Rapid Reaction Force in today's modern society is certainly valid in that if we had of had this force at the time of the Kosovo conflict, then we might have been able to stop the conflict before it had escalated resulting in thousands of deaths. The main goal of this force is stop a major conflict happening before it starts and I believe that the Rapid Reaction Force would have been able to do this had it been in place during the Kosovo War.

We can't keep relying on America to send over its military power through NATO every time we have a conflict in Europe. Collectively we are powerful enough to form a force that is in every way a match for the American military army and so a building up a rapid reaction force should be a priority of Europe's. However we must not forget that we still have NATO in place and this seems to be the policing force of the world at the moment. How would a European Rapid Reaction Force affect NATO's role and vice versa?

It has long been argued that through NATO and the UN, the western world has been able to flourish and embrace peace and stability. The core idea, that if one country is attacked, then it is essentially an attack on all member countries seems to have promoted peace because with the backing of America's military might not many countries dare defy or even go against a NATO member country. The European Rapid Reaction force, it has been argued might endanger this peace and stability that has flourished because without the proper communication between the two groups, no action would be taken to stop conflicts occurring.

If a European Rapid Reaction Force is set up, then it needs to work hand-in-hand with NATO and learn from NATO. There can be no miscommunication because it could cost lives, and clear boundaries need to be set up so that each organization knows where there jurisdiction lies. I have always believed that NATO has overstretched itself by trying to police the whole world, and a European Rapid Reaction Force would help relieve NATO of some of the duties it has to perform. The defence declaration at the Nice Summit agreed a 60,000-strong rapid reaction force to be ready by 2003.

Its role: to participate in actions where NATO itself is not willing to take part; meaning where the US does not have a clear strategic interest (one good example of that was the collapse of government authority in Albania in 1997). The creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) at Nice, intended to be complementary and not competitive to NATO, is a form of reconciliation between political realities on one hand and European ambitions for greater independence on the other. To achieve this, European defence structures that are largely integrated into NATO are just the first stage.

(Taken from Europe's Atlantic Span by Branimira Radoslavova www. ce-review. org) NATO could now concentrate on policing places outside of Europe while the Rapid Reaction Force polices places within Europe. This certainly makes the force a useful and relevant addition to the modern world as it will hopefully strengthen the ties each country in the EU has with each other, but also with America as we our taking some of the pressure off their defence budget. This in turn makes the world a safer place which is the ultimate goal of these organizations which have been set up.

However we must look at the other side of the argument and say do we really need a Rapid Reaction Force in Europe, and do we have the military capability to actually make it possible? NATO has long been policing the world, and who's to say that we can do a better job than they have been doing within Europe. Granted there have been a few hiccups along the way such as Kosovo and the Iraq escapades, but if you look at it in a broader scope, you will see that conflicts have been kept to a minimum and no World Wars have broken out.

We must also remember that America has been spending countless Trillions of Dollars on its defence, and it has been able to use the technology it has produced, and the massive amount of tanks, and manpower to help police the world. Without the help of America, are Europe sure that they can do as good a job as America has done through NATO? None of the European countries spend anywhere near the amount America does on its military so its hard to tell whether or not we are capable of actually policing Europe ourselves without America's help through NATO.

"Will the European Union have the resources to upgrade the capabilities of the Rapid Reaction Force in the coming decade" (Taken from European Military Prospects, Economic Constraints and the Rapid Reaction Force – Wolf, Zycher, Wolf jr – Rand publishing 2001) This is the question that will really decide if the European Rapid Reaction Force is relevant or not in today's modern world. If we can prove to America and NATO that we have the military capabilities to actually police Europe like we say we can then I believe the relevance of the European Rapid Reaction Force within Europe will have been proven.

So in conclusion is a European Rapid Reaction Force relevant to today's modern world? If you had asked me this question before the Kosovo war then I would have categorically said no. However the Kosovo war proved to me that we can not always rely on America's help through NATO. They did eventually come in and sort the situation out, but only when enough people had died. We need some sort of force to protect our own interests within Europe, and the European Rapid Reaction Force seems to be the perfect solution.

We will be able to sort out these conflicts quickly and easily as the basis of the force is on its "rapid" deployment. If it can stem the problem before it escalates then deaths will be kept to a minimum which is one of the primary goals of the Rapid Reaction Force. The ERRF will also alleviate some of the pressure on NATO allowing it to redeploy its troops which were in Europe to other parts of the world. All in all the ERRF will hopefully help to make the world a safer place which is what the majority of the people in the world want.

In that respect I believe the relevance of a European Rapid Reaction Force is guaranteed, and if it can do what it has set out to do then I believe Europe will be thankful for its increased security. "I am excited with the European decision to set up a Rapid Reaction Force of 50 to 60,000 men all ranks. We ourselves are going through a reform of our own peacekeeping operations and I think that you're going to see far greater co-operation between the EU and the UN. " (United Nations Secretary general Kofi Annan)