Eurocorps and other multinational Headquarters are not planned to deploy in Mali

On a pretty regular basis I can read on the requests leading to this humble blog (I claim the word 'humble', when I compare the content of this blog to the ones listed in the blogroll), that some people had typed 'Eurocorps' and 'Mali' as keywords. My conclusion is that some pedagogy on European Defence is still needed. Therefore this article will be useless for those who are skilled in defence matters and is intended to the newcomers.

Well, let us start from the very beginning: there are three types of multinational operational headquarters. As the French operation in Mali is of land-centric type, i.e involving mainly land forces, let us focus on land headquarters.

Type 1: some headquarters are fully multinational and peramently under the operational command of an alliance. In Europe this is the case for the HQ belonging to the NATO force structure. Those HQ can be committed into an operation exclusively if the political steering body of the alliance agrees. However, this does not mean that the alliance would systematically authorize their deployement, as most of them are designed to operate for their peacetime location, in Europe. As regards a possible deployment on a theater of operation, this as to be agreed by the nations. This would mean, anyway, that the NATO runs the operation.

Type 2: some other headquarters are under the command of one nation and encompass a multinational representation, which can vary from a single guy, whose main role is to 'show the flag', up to a contingent of may be 20 guys, even more, if this very headquarters is considered as being attractive. Then, what makes a headquarters attractive? The main factors making armed forces investing in a foreign HQ are the following ones:
- leadership by a relevant nation. I mean a nation, which has a relatively large influence (at European level).
- possibility for the invited country to take over some high visibility jobs (national pride is one of the strongest engines in the world).
- relevance to the eyes of NATO or the EU, which means level at which the lead nation is ready to involve their HQ in NATO or EU operations. However, despite all statements, this remains a secondary one.
- last but not least, fiscal advantages play the role of ultimate trigger for the reluctant nations. Nothing scandalous, its the same for diplomats and UN employees!
Most of the land HQ belong to type 2, like the ARRC (UK), the French Rapid Reaction Corps, Spanish HRF of Betera, the Italian one of Solbiate Olona, and so on and so forth.
Those headquarters offer the major advantage of being theoritically easily usable as only one nation makes the decision. However, making the decision, taking over the leadership, means as well providing the bulk of forces. And that's much more complicated as the military capabilities of our nation exclude such an option. Furthermore, to get the international legitimacy to be the first unit deployed on the ground is extremely complicated, as the forerunner can always be suspected of running at his own advantage. Furthermore, as the leader is to provide the mass of the forces, 6 months later another nation has to take over, which is from a command and control and logistical perspective particularly complex.

Type 3: this is a very type of Land HQ, as only three of this species exist. They are the Eurocorps, the German-Dutch corps, the German-Polish-Danish corps (I suppose, but didn't check that Denmark is still part of it). Their peculiarity is that they are the common property of the so-called framework nations, which share the leadership and therefore the political decision process whether those units are to be committed or not. Their strength is that the leadership being shared, the assets to be provided are shared as well, which makes the investment by each nation much lighter. However, their major weakness is the building up of consensus to be in order to commit this HQ with the operational control on the units placed under its command.

Now, let's go back to Mali. France has decided to grasp the islamists on its own. Providing the largest part of the combat asset, the rest being provided by countries like Chad, France is the legitimate and unique leader of the operation. The other shareholders of Eurocorps could even not claim playing any role, as their armed forces are simply absent. Indeed this is pure arithmetic.
Then, your next question would be, for sure, 'And if one country were to join?'. My answer is that this would be another piece of analysis, which has already been done in the previous post.

To conclude, unless there is a major change in the essential parameters driving the current stance of both France and its allies, Eurocorps won't be committed in Mali.

Previous Articles:
France is to stay alone in Mali
Eurocorps, avant-garde of a European Army

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