"General" Ashton arriving
(imagy by EU photo service)
Unelected EU "foreign minister", British Baroness Catherine Ashton is now trying to rival "general" Herman Van Rompuy as a military leader:
The EU has drawn up a "concept of operations" for the deployment of military forces in Libya, but needs UN approval for what would be the riskiest and most controversial mission undertaken by Brussels.The armed forces, numbering no more than 1,000, would be deployed to secure the delivery of aid supplies, would not be engaged in a combat role but would be authorised to fight if they or their humanitarian wards were threatened. "It would be to secure sea and land corridors inside the country," said an EU official.
The decision to prepare the mission, dubbed Eufor Libya, was taken by the 27 governments at the beginning of April. In recent days, diplomats from the member states have signed a 61-page document on the concept of operations, which rehearses various scenarios for the mission in and around Libya, such as securing port areas, aid delivery corridors, loading and unloading ships, providing naval escorts, and discussing the military assets that would be required.
The planning has taken place inside the office of Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign and security policy chief. Officials are working on an "A-plan", the operational instructions that would specify the size of the force, its equipment and makeup, and the rules of engagement.
Diplomats and officials said this would not be finalised unless a request for an EU military mission came from the UN body the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).
Valerie Amos, the head of Ocha, has privately told EU leaders she is reluctant to make the request and wants to explore all civilian options for the aid operation before seeking military help.
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This talk about an EU ground force in Libya should not be taken seriously. If such an EU force ever will be sent to Libya, it will happen only at a very late stage, when there no more is any real danger from the Gaddafi forces. Right now, "general" Ashton´s troops are virtual troops, with the aim of giving the appearance that the EU is doing something.