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5 octobre 2015 1 05 /10 /octobre /2015 16:50
photo UK MoD

photo UK MoD

 

October 4, 2015 By Gerard O'Dwyer  Defense News

 

HELSINKI — Sweden is not ruling out the possibility that it may apply to join the elite British-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), although no formal process exists to do so, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said.

 

Hultqvist has been summoned by the Defense Committee of the Riksdag, Sweden's parliament, to confirm if the government is engaged in formal talks to join the JEF without the parliament’s knowledge.

 

Amid Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and an increasingly aggressive and unpredictable Kremlin, Sweden has intensified efforts to shore up its defense capabilities by actively seeking to join bilateral and multilateral defense cooperation in Northern Europe.

 

The  Riksdag committee's desire for an explanation also takes place amid deepening defense cooperation with NATO, coupled with the disclosure of a classified memorandum from November exploring the value of Sweden joining the JEF.

 

The memorandum — prepared by Col. Mats Danielsson, the Swedish MoD’s defense attache to its embassy in London — revealed the existence of unofficial contacts between Sweden and Britain that could take neutral Sweden into the NATO-allied JEF.

 

Anna Kinberg Batra, the leader of the pro-NATO Moderate Party, demanded that Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s Social Democratic-Green government establish a more open and transparent stance with the legislature over NATO and the JEF.

 

"We need to have a broad public debate on membership. Therefore, we need to know how the government plans to keep the parliament informed about important changes in NATO cooperation," Batra said.

 

Opposition parties, including the Moderates, are urging Löfven to present a positional statement to the Riksdag that will set out the government’s end-game strategy in defense deepening with NATO and outline any future role for Swedish forces in the JEF, a force that will include Nordic-Baltic NATO members Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands.

 

Secretive, behind-the-scene discussions over joining the JEF, Batra said, reinforced Sweden’s image globally as a country that is "part of NATO but without the benefits that actual NATO membership would deliver."

 

Hultqvist did not deny the existence of the MoD memorandum, titled "Orientation of JEF and requests for Swedish participation." However, the defense minister stated that because Sweden has not received a formal invitation to contribute to the JEF, the issue of its membership is speculative.

 

"Consequently there is no preparation taking place in Cabinet," he said.

 

Sweden’s interest in joining the modular-organized JEF stems from its potential role as a rapid response force should a crisis erupt in the High North or Baltic Sea regions, and one or more NATO member states come under attack.

 

The formation of the 10,000-strong JEF began in December 2012.  It is designed to operate alone or jointly in support of NATO, European Union or United Nations missions in Europe, the Middle East or the Arabian Gulf.

 

The UK element of the JEF will comprise lead commando, airborne, armored, aviation, air and maritime task groups drawn from the Royal Marines, British Army, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

 

Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands signed a letter of intent with the UK in 2014 to join a fully operational high-readiness JEF in 2018.

 

The JEF will operate independently and separate from NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) of about 30,000 land, sea, air and special operations troops, to which the UK is contributing 1,000.

 

The Nordic-Baltic representation in JEF enhances the unit’s potential future role as a "first in" force, capable of deploying in two to five days, in potential crisis-conflict situations in the region .

 

The London Embassy memorandum noted that the UK would likely welcome Sweden, observing that its joining the JEF would be "perfectly possible if we wanted to."

 

As regards to the JEF, the government must provide clarity to its defense-deepening ambitions with NATO and the United States, said Allan Widman (Liberals), the Riksdag Defense Committee's chairman.

 

"A lot is happening behind closed doors in terms of secret discussions that we do not know about," Widman said. "The government appears willing to allow Sweden to increase its dependence on NATO but isn’t yet ready to talk about membership."

 

The clear implication, he said, is that Sweden’s unilateral dependence on NATO continues to strengthen while the country’s national defense organization becomes more reliant on individual countries within NATO.

 

"Sweden is coming ever closer to NATO and to Article Five in the NATO statutes which deals with collective defense," Widman said.

 

The government must adopt the same degree of openness and transparency in its dealings with the JEF and NATO that it has exhibited in its defense-deepening relationships with neighbors Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Widman said.

 

Sweden and fellow nonaligned Nordic defense partner Finland are already in the NATO Response Force (NRF), the high-readiness unit comprising land, air, sea and special operations forces. Sweden joined the NRF in 2013 and Finland in 2008.

 

NATO membership is certain to become an even greater focus, if not priority, for the Löfven government. Pro- NATO sentiment is rising in Sweden. A recent poll showed 41 percent of Swedes favor NATO membership while 39 percent remain opposed and 20 percent are undecided.

 

Political relations between Stockholm and Moscow remain frosty. Russia has repeatedly warned that it will deploy military counter-measures if Sweden joins NATO.

 

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström described relations as "chillier than ever" following a meeting with Russian Ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev on Sept. 17.

 

Wallström demanded Tatarintsev explain the intent behind his June remarks suggesting Sweden could expect to face military counter-measures from Russia if it joined NATO.

 

She also sought an explanation for "saber-rattling" comments by Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said during a press briefing on Sept. 10 that Swedish membership in NATO would have "politico-military and foreign policy consequences" that would require "retaliatory measures from Russia."

 

"We wanted to establish that Sweden decides its own foreign and security policies and that we do not accept attempts to, through threats, influence us in this or other matters," Wallström said. "We delivered a clear message. Threats from Russia are unacceptable."

 

In related news, the Swedish government plans to highlight territorial violations by foreign militaries. Under a new policy, the Armed Forces Command is authorized to inform the public "within hours" of detected incursions by foreign naval vessels or aircraft in Swedish territorial waters or airspace.

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26 mai 2015 2 26 /05 /mai /2015 07:50
HMS Ocean - photo UK MoD

HMS Ocean - photo UK MoD

 

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The need to respond quickly to an emerging crisis has formed the bedrock of much of the UK’s force capability generation activity for some time. Beyond the counter-terrorism role of UK Special Forces there are a number of capabilities held at high or very high readiness, examples of such capabilities might include everything from a single C17 to a spearhead battalion or the NATO Submarine Rescue System.

Under the control of the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) in Northwood is a collection of forces called the Joint Rapid Reaction Force. This is defined as;

The Joint Rapid Reaction Forces (JRRF) is a pool of highly capable units from all services that are maintained at high readiness for contingency operations. CJO is responsible for the JRRF, although operational command of the units is retained by the single service CINCs until they’re deployed.

These units are trained to joint standards and are deployed in joint force packages, tailored to meet the operational requirement. The pool is configured to mount operations up to medium scale war fighting and can be employed nationally or multinationally under NATO, EU, UN or other ad hoc coalition.

To command the JRRF a fully resourced Joint Task Force HQ (JTFHQ) is maintained at 48 hours notice to move.

This used to be supported principally by two elements from the British Army and Royal Marines although these have contracted and been renamed as part of SDSR 2010 and subsequent force changes. The Spearhead Lead Element was replaced with the Airborne Task Force and UK Operations Battalion in 2012.

This was modified further with the announcement of two combined high readiness forces.

The Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) is a joint UK/French construct and the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) is a an agreement between the UK and Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway that will create yet another high readiness force by 2018.

 

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8 septembre 2014 1 08 /09 /septembre /2014 16:50
International partners sign Joint Expeditionary Force agreement

The Latvian Chief of Defence meeting British soldiers during a NATO training exercise

 

5 September 2014 Ministry of Defence and The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP

 

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has signed a letter of intent with international partners to develop the Joint Expeditionary Force.

 

The letter of intent, signed with partners from Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway, aims to develop the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) so that it is fully operational before 2018.

The JEF is a pool of high readiness, adaptable forces that is designed to enhance the UK’s ability to respond rapidly, anywhere in the world, with like-minded allies, or on behalf of international organisations such as the UN or NATO.

The UK’s contribution will include the lead commando, airborne, armoured, aviation, air and maritime task groups.

The Defence Secretary said:

I am very pleased that we have signed a letter of intent with our partners to establish the Joint Expeditionary Force.

This will be developed around the UK’s existing high readiness units and will provide a capability that can respond anywhere in the world, in any environment, as part of a coalition, or on behalf of international organisations such as the UN and NATO.

We are stronger together. Our partners from Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway have all agreed to attach forces to the JEF when the time is right for us to stand together.

British and Estonian soldiers
A British soldier liaises with an Estonian anti-tank section commander during a NATO training exercise [Picture: Specialist Joshua Leonard]

The signing ceremony took place with all 28 defence ministers in Cardiff aboard HMS Duncan on 4 September at the NATO Summit. During the signing, discussions took place on how the agreement will allow the UK and JEF partners to continue with the excellent operational co-operation that has been achieved to date in places like Afghanistan.

The force will provide the UK’s focus for developing flexible, rapid response forces for NATO, or other coalition operations, to meet together the challenges of an unpredictable world. Through the UK-led JEF, a model for others to follow as well as a focus for fairer defence burden-sharing is being provided.

For the latest updates visit the NATO Summit Wales 2014 page on GOV.UK and @NATOWales on Twitter.

The aim is to create a UK military framework, focused around its existing high readiness capabilities, that its partners can join up with. While it is the UK’s intention to fully integrate the UK’s JEF partners’ contributions before 2018, the JEF could deploy immediately if required.

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