Following its restructuring in 2014, the European Defence Agency developed a structured and comprehensive approach to supporting EU Operations as part of its mandate to support the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). This has led to a number of initiatives that made a direct and tangible contribution to ongoing EU missions and/or operations.
Projects and expertise
The EDA systematically promotes projects and expertise developed within its framework to EU Operation Commanders. The objective is to improve value for money with a view to fulfilling the requirements of the end users.
Operation EUFOR RCA in Central African Republic served as a test case of this approach. With the support of the European External Action Service (EEAS), a dialogue was established in the early stages of the operations. This allowed EDA to provide cyber awareness seminars to 150 members of EUFOR RCA's operational headquarters in Larissa, as well as an EDA-developed human resources management software (J1FAS).
A similar approach has been taken during the launch of Operation SOPHIA/EUNAVFOR MED. In addition to Cyber awareness seminars and the use of EDA-developed human resources management software, EUNAVFOR MED is using the MARSUR networking project developed within the framework of the Agency to facilitate common maritime situational awareness. OHQ SOPHIA is also testing a software application, named GeohuB, developed jointly by EDA and EU SatCen which provides a centralized environment for geospatial information sharing and analysis.
The European Defence Agency has also been testing in the EU Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali an EDA-funded "Smart Energy Camp" demonstrator since end 2015 which analyses the benefits of integrating new technologies into traditional power grids for deployed camps.
When capabilities required in operations are not available, contracting commercial solutions to alleviate shortfall can be an option. The Agency, has a combination of industry knowledge, in-house technical expertise and experience in procurement, which can support CSDP operations/missions and Member States in their procurement procedures and save scare resources. EDA offers support for ad-hoc procurement as well as pre-missions solutions.
In 2014, the expertise of the Agency was called upon by Operation EUFOR Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The EDA provided assistance for the contracting of Air-to-Ground Surveillance (AGSR) services. A procurement arrangement was signed with the Operation Commander and allowed the Agency to assume the lead role in administering the procurement procedure.
Further to this pilot case, a Cooperation Arrangement was signed in 2015 with Athena, the mechanism established to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union operations having military or defence implications, to facilitate contracting support to CSDP operations. Under this arrangement, the Agency has supported several missions to assist interalia procurement of special and armored vehicles, medical equipment or to analyse cost-benefit of outsourcing camp management. EDA also offers a web-based Contractor Support to Operations (CSO) Platform, to serve as a forum for interaction between contracting authorities and economic operators.
In June 2015, the Athena Mechanism joined the EU SatCom Market ad hoc project of the European Defence Agency. As part of ongoing efforts to improve the procurement process of the different operations, this allows Athena and all EU CSDP military operations to pool the purchase of satellite communications and related services with other EU Member States that are already part of this initiative. Since February 2016, CSDP civilian missions are also making use of this joint procurement scheme in Niger, Mali, Ukraine and Somalia. This is a perfect example of concrete and effective civil-military synergy in the framework of CSDP.
As to the future, EDA is supporting relevant EU bodies in exploring how other areas could benefit from similar contracted services solutions, in particular in-theatre medical evacuation, field hospitals or camp management.