The Swedish Armed Forces invited EDA participating Member States as well as other countries to the first European Personnel Recovery Operations and Plans Course in Karlsborg, 7-18 March 2011. Course participants came from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden. In addition to the Swedish instructors, Canada, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States additionally sent observers and instructors to Karlsborg.
The intensive two-week course aimed at enabling participants to prepare, plan and execute Personnel Recovery Operations. “This course is indeed very helpful for our operational planning. The instructors are very experienced and motivated”, said course participant First Lieutenant Jos Tijs from the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Major Tor Cavalli-Björkman, a Swedish Instructor, is convinced: “We all benefit tremendously from this international information exchange. I would like to stress that this initiative will increase the number of trained personnel available to support on-going operations as well as EU Battle Group.”
The initiative to standardise Personnel Recovery training emerged from the Project Team Personnel Recovery in the European Defence Agency (EDA) at the end of November 2010. Jon Mullin, Capabilities Director at EDA, stated: “I am most grateful that Sweden agreed to offer the first EU opportunity of this kind and hosted it so successfully at its Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School. This initiative will significantly boost Personnel Recovery capabilities in Europe.”
A Belgian officer said “The course could not come at a better time, given the obvious requirements we have witnessed in the press regarding the events in North Africa during the past few weeks.”
Personnel Recovery is aimed at mitigating and reacting to the risk of isolation, capture and exploitation of military or civilian personnel during a Crisis Management Operation (CMO). The Personnel Recovery Course, envisaged to be held regularly by various host nations, is one of several results of the respective Project Team at EDA. Other initiatives include a Personnel Recovery Concept, a personnel registration tool and the preparation of joint procurement of Personnel Recovery Equipment in the future.
The European Defence Agency was established in 2004 to support the participating Member States and the Council in their effort to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) as well as pooling efforts and resources in the development of transformed, interoperable and cost-effective armed forces.