The key objectives of ALTHEA
- Supporting the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) collective and combined training, supporting them in their progression towards NATO standards
- To provide deterrence and continued compliance with the responsibility to fulfil the role specified in Annexes 1A and 2 of the Dayton/Paris Agreement (General Framework Agreement for Peace in BiH); and
- To contribute to a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), in line with its mandate, and to achieve core tasks in the OHR's Mission Implementation Plan and the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP).
The EUFOR Mandate
The mandate for EUFOR’s Operation Althea is in two parts, Executive and Non-Executive. The Executive mandate is given by the UN Security Council, and the EUFOR mission is then based on the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) Joint Action which includes an Executive part derived from the UN Security Council (Supporting the BiH authorities maintain a safe and secure environment). It also includes and a Non-Executive part (Supporting AFBiH collective and combined training). This supports BiH in its progress to being a ‘security provider’ rather than a ‘security consumer’.
United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1551, adopted unanimously on 9 July 2004, welcomed the EU's intention to launch a military mission in BiH. The decision by the EU to launch ALTHEA followed the decision by NATO to conclude its successful SFOR-operation.
This was followed by UNSCR 1575, adopted unanimously on 22 November 2004 which authorized the Member States, acting through or in cooperation with the EU, to establish a multinational stabilization force (EUFOR) as a legal successor to SFOR, under unified command and control, which will fulfil its missions in relation to the implementation of Annex 1-A and Annex 2 of the Dayton/Paris Agreement. EUFOR has the main peace stabilization role under the military aspects of the Peace Agreement.
The Resolution also welcomed the EU’s increasing engagement in BiH. EUFOR's mandate was extended by UNSCR 1639 (2005) on 21 November 2005.
ALTHEA is carried out with recourse to NATO assets and capabilities, on the basis agreed with NATO ("Berlin Plus").
In 2012 the Operation reconfigured and changed its focus to Capacity Building and Training (CB&T) of the Armed Forces of BiH (AF BiH). It, nevertheless retained its obligations to support the BiH authorities in maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment. In 2018 the CB&T programme was successfully concluded as the AF BiH had achievedthe aim of being self sustainable in their military training.
EU Political Objectives
The June 2003 Thessaloniki Declaration confirmed that the future of the Western Balkans is within the EU. The Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) is the framework for the European integration of BIH, and entered into force on the 1st of June 2005.
The EU has a comprehensive approach within BiH, focusing on Defence and Security, Development and Diplomacy. The EU focuses on reforming state level institutions, and supporting BiH to make economic progress.
EUFOR’s part in the comprehensive approach is to assist in creating the conditions to deliver the long term political objective of a stable, viable, peaceful and multi-ethnic BIH, co-operating peacefully with its neighbours and irreversibly on track towards EU membership.
The operation reinforces the EU's comprehensive approach towards BIH, and supports BIH's progress towards EU integration by its own efforts. The operation is part of the overall European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) mission in BIH and of a closely coordinated EU presence in BIH.
The EU Special Representative promotes overall EU political co-ordination in BIH. EU Commanders co-ordinate closely with the EUSR in BIH with a view to ensuring consistency of the EU military operation within the broader context of the EU activities in BIH.
Chain of Command
The basic decisions on the operation are taken by the Council of The European Union. The Council decided to launch the operation following its approval of the Operation Plan (OPLAN) and the Rules of Engagement (RoE).
The EU's Political and Security Committee (PSC) exercises the political control and strategic direction of the operation, under the responsibility of the Council. Powers of decision with respect to the objectives and termination of the military operation remains vested in the Council, assisted by the EU Special Representative (EUSR) Ambassador Johann Sattler and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security (HR/VP) Mr. Josep Borrell.
The EU Military Committee (EUMC) monitors the proper execution of the EU military operation.
The EU Operation Commander (OpCdr) for ALTHEA Lieutenant General Brice Houdet is located at SHAPE with the EU Operation Headquarters (OHQ).
Major General Anton Wessely is EU Force Commander.
The budget for EUFOR Althea is split into two areas. Common costs of the EU military operation are administered by the "ATHENA" mechanism, shared between all participating nations. Personnel and other items are on a "costs lie where they fall" basis.
A total of 20 countries, including EU Member States and non-EU Troop Contributing Countries(TCC) are present within EUFOR.
(Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Chile, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Türkiye)
EUFOR has a Multinational Battalion which enables it to respond as required to support BiH authorities in the maintenance of a safe and secure environment. It has never been required to act in this capacity. EUFOR has a small footprint in terms of personnel, but has the ability to quickly bring in reserve forces from around Europe to supplement its capabilities. EUFOR has other assets which enable its work within BiH, including helicopters and an Explosives and Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team. It also maintains a network of 17 Liason and Observation Teams (LOT) throughout BiH which liaise with the local community and help to ‘feel the pulse’ of the situation.
The European Union’s Military Contribution to the Stabilisation and Integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the European Family of Nations
Althea is regarded by many as the Greek goddess of healing. In myth, Althea, mother of Meleager, was told by the Gods that her son would die as soon as a piece of wood on her fire was consumed. Althea took the wood from the fire, extinguished it and placed the wood in a chest to preserve her son’s life. With the fire in Bosnia and Herzegovina extinguished, Operation ALTHEA will now assist the healing of the country and all its peoples. Unlike the myth, the wood will never again be taken from the chest but will remain preserved, safely, forever.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the 6 republics that made up the former Yugoslavia, entered a period of bitter war in 1992, a war that cost the lives of over 100,000 people. Finally in 1995, with the assistance of the International Community and NATO, the war was brought to an end with the signing, in Paris, of the Dayton Accords. The long road to restoring peace and prosperity in this war ravaged nation had begun.
The 2003 Thessaloniki Declaration confirmed that the future of the Western Balkans, of which Bosnia and Herzegovina is both a central and significant part, lies within the European Union. Operation ALTHEA is one facet of a comprehensive and coherent European Union commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It adds an extra dimension to the existing political engagement, assistance programmes and police and monitoring missions that are already underway.
ALTHEA is the third and largest military operation that the EU has embarked upon to date. The European Military Force, known as EUFOR, is a manifestation of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). From the ESDP has evolved the Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP). The CFSP, in addition to the objective of strengthening the security of the Union in all ways, also has a prime objective of preserving peace and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
On 2 December 2004, 9 years after the war ended, the European Union launched a military operation in BiH entitled Operation ALTHEA*. This followed the decision by NATO to hand over its own peacekeeping mission that had maintained security in the region since the war ended.
The EU deployed a robust military force (EUFOR) at the same manpower levels as NATO’s SFOR (just under 7,000 troops) to ensure continued compliance with the Dayton/Paris Agreement and to contribute to a safe and secure environment (SASE) in BiH.
EUFOR troops were principally located in three main areas of the country:
Multi-National Task Force (North) – approx. 1,300 personnel based in Tuzla
Multi- National Task Force (North West) – approx. 1,000 personnel based in Banja Luka
Multi-National Task Force (South East) – approx. 1,400 personnel based in Mostar
The EUFOR HQ element was based in Camp Butmir, Sarajevo along with an Integrated Police Unit (IPU) of approximately 500 personnel. In addition to these Force Levels, 2,000 troops were spread across various locations throughout BiH in Liaison and Observation Teams (LOTs)
In February 2007, troop levels had been decreased to around 1,600 after the European Council scrutinised the ongoing security situation in BIH and deemed that the force levels of EUFOR could be restructured. At the same time EUFOR increased its overall situational awareness within BIH by having integrated Liaison and Observation Teams (LOTs) within the BIH community. Following the activation of the EUFOR Intermediate Reserve Force in 2022, EUFOR troop levels now number approximately 1,100 and the Force is now mainly focused on assisting the Government of BiH in maintaining a safe and secure environment as well as combined training alongside the AF BiH.
An out-of-country Intermediate Reserve Force, based within Europe, can be called upon to deploy at short notice to boost EUFOR’s troop numbers in the event of a threat to the safe and secure environment. This ensures that EUFOR has the capacity to swiftly intervene in support of BiH Law Enforcement Agencies in order to maintain the safe and secure environment if required.
*ALTHEA” was the Greek Goddess of healing.
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