Welcome Home, EUROCORPS!
When one thinks of Strasbourg, one thinks of international and European institutions: the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights, and many other COE-related institutions that are based in this beautiful city. But did you know there is also an international/European military organization here, too? Eurocorps was established by the Rapport de La Rochelle 20 years ago in May 1992, as a “Force for the European Union and a Force for NATO”. Several months later it established its headquarters in Strasbourg. It is comprised of five framework nations: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Spain. In addition, it has four associated nations:
Greece, Italy, Poland, and Turkey. Plans are under discussion for the United States to join as an associated nation.
On January 31, 2013, Eurocorps celebrated the successful completion of its latest mission, a one year deployment to Afghanistan. During the past twelve months, over 300 Eurocorps officers and soldiers have served in Afghanistan helping to stabilize the country and train its security forces. And the Eurocorps Commander, French General Olivier de Bavinchove, for the past fifteen months has been the Chief of Staff of ISAF, which made him the third highest ranking officer in the coalition’s military forces in Afghanistan.
General de Bavinchove and his multi-national troops were welcomed home to Strasbourg in a solemn ceremony at the city’s famed Place Broglie by the French Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Mayor of Strasbourg, the Chiefs of Defense of many of the participating nations, the Afghan Ambassador to France, and numerous other military, diplomatic and civilian dignitaries. The ceremony was followed by a reception hosted by the Mayor at the Hotel d’Ville and a serenade performed by French and German military bands.
Eurocorps’ deployment to Afghanistan was its second to that country, and its sixth deployment overall, including missions to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. To where and when will it next deploy? That’s uncertain at this point, but what is for sure is that when it is next called upon, Eurocorps and its highly trained, experienced, and professional men and women will be up to the task.
Congratulations, Eurocorps, on a job well done! And welcome home!!
Evan G. Reade
Deputy Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe
For more information on the ceremony, please consult the website of Eurocorps: http://www.eurocorps.org/news_isaf.php?id_news=1641