The purpose of the visit was to discuss the ongoing support EUFOR provides to BiH in the maintenance of its safe and security environment, and the visit included discussions with the EU’s Special Representative and Head of EU Delegation Ambassador Wigemark and the Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces BiH (AFBiH) General Jeleč. General Everard also discussed some key future aspects of EUFOR’s mission in BiH with subject matter experts and senior military personnel from EUFOR.
He was welcomed at EUFOR HQ by Commander EUFOR, Major General Anton Waldner, and an Honour Guard comprised of soldiers from the EUFOR’s Multinational Battalion (MNBN). The MNBN is EUFOR’s in-theatre reserve, and as Operational Commander, General Everard can supplement the battalion with the Intermediate Reserve Forces under the ‘Berlin Plus’ arrangement should the security situation in BiH necessitate it. The ‘Berlin Plus’ arrangement permits the EU to draw upon NATO’s military assets and reserve forces in its Peace Support Operations; an arrangement currently unique to Operation ALTHEA.
While the deployment of the Intermediate Reserve Force to BiH forms part of the annual exercise ‘Quick Response’, which is an opportunity for EUFOR and the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies of BiH to train together, this visit focused upon the longer-term training support provided by EUFOR, and EU and NATO nations.
The EUFOR Capacity Building and Training (CB&T) organisation provides AFBiH with military expertise and technical support in a variety of training areas, which in the last year included dismantling surplus, disaster relief operations and flight safety to name only a few. Joint working groups monitor the development of the AFBiH towards self-sustainability. In their meeting, Generals Everard, Jeleč and Waldner all agreed that recent training with EUFOR’s CB&T and MNBN had been very fruitful for the AFBiH over recent months. This training forms only a part of EUFOR’s role: while he was here, General Everard discussed other parts of EUFOR’s mandate under GFAP. These included EUFOR’s assistance to the Ammunition, Weapons and Explosives Masterplan, its support to Demining BiH, and its commitment to gender inclusivity.
All these areas, as well as EUFOR’s support to the safe and secure environment, form part of the comprehensive approach of the European Union as BiH moves towards its European future.