Support for Ukraine

Together strong – Multinational Cooperation within EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine

Together strong – Multinational Cooperation within EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine

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EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine is not only the first military training mission on European soil; the military participation of currently 24 different nations also demonstrates Europe's great solidarity with Ukraine. In an interview, Lieutenant Colonel René T., the Dutch Senior National Representative (SNRSenior National Representative), explains the importance of multinational cooperation for this mission.

A man in uniform stands in front of a blue screen

Lieutenant Colonel René T. is a Senior National Representative to the Special Training Command of EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine

Bundeswehr / Sebastian Moldt

Lieutenant Colonel, you are currently assigned to the Special Training Command (ST-C) as Senior National Representative (SNRSenior National Representative). What are your tasks at the ST-C?

As an SNRSenior National Representative, I have to perform a variety of different tasks. First of all, I am the point of contact for all Dutch staff officers involved in EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine. I support them in any cases of difficulties or problems. This task is therefore not limited to the ST-C itself, but also includes the Brussels-based EU Military Planning and Conduct Capability as well as the Combined Arms Training Command in Poland. In addition, I represent the interests of the Netherlands in the context of this mission and intervene if the Dutch military is to be given an assignment it cannot fulfill due to our national requirements. To this end, I am in close contact with both the superior command in the Netherlands and the superior command of the ST-C. If required, I can advise both of these entities on personnel matters or legal bases and I can also serve as a mediator. In addition to my assignment as SNRSenior National Representative, I am acting as deputy head of the Training Division, which is responsible within the ST-C for the coordination and planning of all training courses for the Ukrainian armed forces that are conducted on German soil.

How does multinational cooperation at the ST-C work?

Roughly one third of the posts at the ST-C are filled by multinational service personnel from around 15 different nations. Most of these are liaison officers, whose task is to keep in contact with their respective home country and to help organise the multinational contributions to the various training courses. For this purpose, a meeting is held once a week, during which the liaison officers share views and information with the Chief of Staff or the Deputy Commander of the ST-C. This enables all participating nations to work together when challenges arise in terms of planning or execution. By now, entire training modules are conducted in Germany by multinational partners who provide not only instructors but also support personnel and interpreters.

In which EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine training courses are Dutch servicemen and women currently involved?

We have been supporting Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion since the beginning of the war, in February 2022. In the context of EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine, Dutch servicemen and women are at present particularly involved in the training of battalion and brigade staffs as well as in various infantry training measures. In addition, we offer initial and advanced training on the weapon systems we provide to Ukraine. For example, we conduct training courses on the PatriotPhased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target air defence missile system together with German soldiers. In addition to our contribution to EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine, the Dutch military is also involved in the training conducted by the USUnited States Security Assistance Group Ukraine (SAG-U), the British Interflex training programme and other binational training measures.

A soldier stands on a green field. In the background, three soldiers run towards a burning building.

Dutch soldiers are involved in the infantry training "Fighting in Complex Terrain".

Niederländisches Heer

Why is multinational cooperation so important for this mission?

For the first time in 80 years, Europe has again become the theatre of a war which changes the entire security situation. Decades of peace have led many European nations to downsize their armed forces and neglect the ability to cover the entire range of capabilities and capacities. Therefore, we need each other and have to pool our forces in order to be able to offer Ukraine exactly the training it requests. In addition, some nations are still in the process of shifting their focus back on national and collective defence, which is why we are lacking new experience in this area. Ensuring Europe's defence readiness is a joint task. Therefore, EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine also provides an important opportunity to learn from the experiences of Ukraine and to improve our own defence capability and interoperability.

Which challenges arise from multinational cooperation?

On the one hand, with so many different nations, the language barrier is always a challenge, both at the ST-C and in training. On the other hand, we have observed that not all procedures are identical, even within NATO. Even between the Netherlands and Germany, which have been working closely together for years regarding the mutual integration of armed forces, there are differences in procedures and also in terms of equipment, weapon systems and vehicles. In this regard, we must develop common positions and standard operating procedures (SOPs) which we can build upon in the future.

What are your goals for the future?

In my division, I only see fellow soldiers who are working with incredible commitment every day and who want to make a difference for Ukraine with this mission. We'll have to maintain this commitment in the future and keep improving the existing processes and procedures. This way, we can establish a strong foundation on which future contingents can build. Our aim is to continuously improve the training for Ukrainian soldiers and to support Ukraine as long as necessary.

I would also like to point out that we should not forget those working in the background. We may not always be aware of their work, but this mission would not be possible without logistic support and medical care or without the organisational support provided by soldiers who have remained in routine duty.


by Lea Bacherle

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