Today’s theatre of operations is challenging and volatile. Deployed personnel carry the risk of being trapped, isolated, detained, captured or maltreated by adversary forces in a hostile environment. Ensuring the swift and safe recovery of personnel who for some reason have ended up isolated in an emergency situation must be a high-priority for all EU-led crisis management operations. In this regard, all possible diplomatic, civil and military options should be combined to effect the recovery and reintegration of isolated personnel.
Evidently, successful Personnel Recovery (PR) tasks have a tremendous impact on operational security, the morale and confidence of deployed forces as well as on public support.
Through its dedicated “Project Team Personnel Recovery (PT PR)”, the European Defence Agency (EDA) supports its pMS in enhancing their defence capabilities by addressing the full spectrum of PR; from the cultural and conceptual context through training aspects to the development of advanced technologies.
- developing a common approach and understanding in PR (culture, practices and procedures);
- facilitating the development of a multi-layered programme of activities aiming to cope the identified capability shortfalls in PR;
- encouraging the European defence industry to become more innovative and competitive in developing and validating new PR capabilities and technologies;
- supporting activities related to information and command & control (C2) aspects in PR;
- facilitating and supporting PR and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Extraction (SERE) training;
- enabling multinational cooperation and coordination among Member States (MS) in order to enhance the interoperability of their PR capabilities, considering the guidance provided by EDA Strategic Context Case Ground Combat Capabilities (SCC GCC) module “Enhance protection of forces”
- facilitating cooperation with other EU and non-EU entities to ensure synergy of efforts, cost savings and avoiding duplication;
- addressing civilian and humanitarian aspects of PR.
Personnel Recovery is becoming increasingly significant for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and missions since any deployed person carries the risk of being trapped, isolated, captured and/or maltreated by adversary forces. If this occurs, the incident can have a detrimental impact not only on the operation’s security but also on deployed forces’ morale as well as general public support. It is therefore imperative to ensure the effective and quick recovery and reintegration of isolated personnel by using all possible diplomatic, civil and military options.
Since its inception EDA’s PT PR has been working in support of its participating Member States (pMS) to enhance their PR capabilities and to effectively address the related challenges.. In its activities the PT PR is supported by the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) and the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) and in a case-by-case basis by the European Personnel Recovery Centre (EPRC), a close partner of the Agency.
The efforts of EDA’s PT PR to close identified shortfalls in PR and to provide the required capability to safely recover isolated personnel are connected to an enduring process. In this context, working on three interrelated work strands (Concept harmonization, Command & Control and Training) the PT PR aims to address the full spectrum of PR capability development; from the cultural and conceptual context through training aspects to the development and use of advanced technologies. Under the leadership of Germany and with the active participation of pMS, the PT PR has delivered tangible results and front-runner achievements include:
- Personnel Recovery Functional Area Service Advanced Technology Demonstrator (PR FAS ATD): an information management software solution which supports command and control (C2) aspects of PR missions. The list of functionalities includes, but is not limited to map representation, management of special instructions (SPINS), import of isolated personnel reports (ISOPREP), automatic creation of various standard reports (pdf). A DVD (PRF FAS ATD software) has been distributed to all EDA pMS and can be use it in support of PR training activities.
- e-learning tool for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE): an e-learning tool which ensures the required harmonization of SERE training methods among pMS. It facilitates the pre-deployment training of high number of personnel and allows for distance PR training which saves time & cost. A SERE DVD has been distributed to all EDA pMS (Oct 2016) and other national/international organizations (EPRC, 1 GE/NL, RNZAF, JPRA/US), based on pMS approval.
- CAT.B project “Personnel Recovery Controller and Planner Course/PRCPC: a cooperative project (8 contributing MS: SE/Lead Nation, AT, BE, DE, HU, NL, CY and IT) that during its five years duration (2014/19) organized 19 multinational PR courses that delivered more than 500 military staff trained in Joint Personnel recovery (JPR) that is now available for supporting the execution of PR tasks in military missions and operations under EU/CSDP, NATO or UN.
- CAT.B project “Joint PR Education and Training Courses/JPR-E&TC): an on-going cooperative project launched in April 2020 (3 contributing MS: DE/Lead Nation, HU and SE) that is delivering multinational PR training and education events (e.g. Joint Personnel Recovery Staff Courses/JPRSC, Joint Personnel Recovery Leadership Course/JPRLC) within the EU. The main objective of JPR-E&TC is to provide/generate well-trained personnel able to perform as a JPR staff in a Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell (PRCC) or Joint Personnel Recovery Centre (JPRC) within an EU, NATO or national headquarters, in the planning and/or execution of military operations or exercises. Moreover, it provides additional benefits in areas of interoperability and PR training standardization within the EU
- EU Military Concept for Personnel Recovery: PT PR supported by the European Personnel Recovery Centre (EPPRC) provided expertise to the EUMS in the development of this concept which was approved by EUMC on 18 Jul 2018 (CSDP/PSDC 424, EUMC 129).
- Tactical Personnel Recovery Mission Simulator (TPRMS): a project run jointly by EDA and IT within a four year’ timeframe (2019/22). Its objective is to validate training by simulation (use of emerging Virtual Reality technology in a shared fully-synthetic environment, where Radio Comms play a key role) as a low-cost solution in the rehearsal of joint PR tasks/missions by cross-functional PR forces (aircrews & extraction forces/land).