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HELBROC Battlegroup

The Battlegroup (BG) is a specific form of the EU's rapid response elements and is one possible answer to the timely provision of the necessary capabilities for an EU rapid response operation. It is a military force consisting of at least 1500 combat soldiers. Fifteen battlegroups have been established, most of which consisting of multi-national contributions. The groups rotate, so that a minimum of two Battlegroups are ready for deployment at any given time.

At the 1999 Helsinki European Council, Rapid Response was identified as an important aspect of EU crisis management. As a result, the Helsinki Headline Goal 2003 assigned to Member States the objective of being able to provide rapid response elements available and deployable at very high levels of readiness.

According to the Headline goal, in Brussels, on 13 November 2006, the Ministers of Defense from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hellas and Romania, signed the Technical Agreement for the initiation of HELBROC BG package. Hellenic National Defense General Staff assigned to the 71ST Air Mobile Brigade the responsibility of creating this HELBROC BG package.

Training is the key requirement for battlegroups, especially when it is emphasised in multinationallity and interoperability issues. After the initiation of HELBROC BG, two exercises were planned and contucted under the guidance of EUMS and EL EU OHQ.

Fifteen Hellenic officers as FHQ Key Nucleus staff and one Bulgarian officer as HELBROC BG Dpty Cdr were assigned in HELBROC FHQ during the preparation period that ended at the 31st of June 207. This Key Nucleus team, in cooperation with expert staff officers from all participant countries, planned CPX/"EVROPI-I/07" and LIVEX/"EVROPI-II/07" that were conducted in ASKOS-PROFITIS exercise area during May 2007. These exercises were focused across the full range of tasks listed in Article 17.2 of the Treaty on European Union. The FHQ was fully manned and all Participating Nations (PNs) subordinate Units were deployed in the above area.

Since, according to the EU Battlegroup Concept, the certification of battlegroups remains a Framework Nations' responsibility, these exercises verified the readiness of the HELBROC BG to undertake any EU-led Crisis Management Operations (CMOs) during the second semester of 2007.

From 2 until 12 September 2008 the HELBROG/BG executed the [TAMS] "EUROPE II/08" in which examinant, except from the mission of [TAMS] "EUROPE [II]/07", the mission Segregation of Fighting Parts. With this exercise [o] [SM] was certified and undertook readiness of undertaking of mission in the frames of EU, for the 1st half-year period 2009.

From 2 up to 12 September 2008 the HELBROG BG executed the LIVEX "EVROPI II/08" in which, apart from the missions of LIVEX "EVROPI II 07", the scenario Separation of Parties by force was examined as well. By the end of the exercise the BG was evaluated and certified for the stand by period of the 1st Semester 2009.

Cyprus is participating in the HELBROC Battlegroup with Hellas, Bulgaria and Romania contributing Staff Officers, Military Police and a Medical Unit. Also during the Military Capabilities Commitment Conference, which was held on 22 November 2004 in Brussels, Cyprus offered its infrastructure and a medical group in support of the EU BGs. Cyprus participated in the crisis management exercise Evropi II 2008, organised by EU HELBROC battle group and supported by the EU. The exercise was held from September 6 to 12 at the Askos Profitis exercise range within the Hellenic Republic.

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