European Air Group
Many people confuse the EAG with the Expeditionary Air Group but we are an entirely different entity. In this case EAG is the European Air Group or Group Aérien Européen for the French speakers amongst us.
First of all, a little history. During the Gulf War, the UK’s RAF and France’s Armée de l’air (FAF) worked closely together on a large range of operational activities. Soon after, the two Air Forces found themselves working together again, on missions in support of the United Nations forces in the former Yugoslavia. Further close cooperation followed in operations over Bosnia-Herzegovina. The FAF and RAF realised that there was a need for an organisation to improve the inter-air force cooperation and to work on issues relating to interoperability. Thus it was at the Chartres Summit, on 18 November 1994, that the first announcement was made of the intention to create the Franco-British European Air Group (FBEAG). Even at that stage, it was foreseen that other European air forces might wish to join the organisation – so the word “European” was included in the title right at the beginning.
On 27 June 1995 France and the UK jointly declared the formal establishment of the FBEAG. Shortly afterwards, on 30th October, the FBEAG was formally inaugurated at a joint ceremony, by French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister John Major. Over the next few years other European countries applied for membership and by 1 January 1998 the FBEAG formally changed its title to the European Air Group (EAG).
The EAG now includes the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Personnel from each of the member Nations make up the permanent staff of the EAG HQ which is based on 1 Site at RAF High Wycombe (the building with all the flags at the front!).
What do we do? We are 7 Air Forces with a focus on interoperability. We take direction from the Chiefs of the Air Staffs through the annual Steering Group and work with the experts from each Nation to achieve success in Projects that enhance interoperability, increase efficiency, reduce cost and cut bureaucracy at the tactical level but with strategic effect. In a world of increasingly scarce resources, the EAG continues to play a central role to find and develop common and cost-effective solutions for all of our Member Air Forces.
One of the key strengths of the EAG is its unique position in the European Defence arena. Its size, flexibility, ‘air mindedness’ and structure combine to make the EAG ideally qualified to serve as an intermediary with other stakeholders and to promote initiatives that would be more difficult for others to fulfil, providing profitable benefits to our nations and Defence Organizations.
The EAG is an organization whose cost-effectiveness, flexibility and responsiveness are almost ideally structured to meet contemporary Operational and Tactical level Air Power issues that are not covered by any other European Defence Organization; with a potential to be the nucleus of any Defence Air initiative that might emerge in the future. Furthermore, because of its size and flexibility, the EAG sits in a unique position to act as a catalyst with other organizations, fostering initiatives that would not progress in other forums and helping to further the common goal of European Defence from an ‘Air’ perspective.
Perhaps the most significant work in this area is the Strategic MEDEVAC Technical Arrangement (TA) which, once completed, will allow a casualty from one country to be evacuated by another nation’s aircraft with a possible third nation’s medical team providing the medical care on board.
With 6 main areas of focus within the EAG; Force Protection, Joint Personnel Recovery (JPR), Logistics, Air Ops Ground, Air Ops Flying and CIS, there is a broad spectrum of work and output from the small HQ located at RAF High Wycombe. A plethora of work is covered on a daily basis. Successes include the establishment of the European Air Transport Command (EATC) based in Eindhoven, Combined Air Terminal Operations (CATO) and Air Transport, Air-to-Air Refuelling and other Exchanges of Services (ATARES) through the Military Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE).
A number of courses are run by the EAG on an annual basis for some or all of its Member Nations plus attendees from other non-Member Nations across Europe. Courses include the 6-week Advanced Aviation Medicine Course and the Combined Joint Personnel Recovery Standardisation Course (CJPRSC) which has just completed its seventh iteration. The CJPRSC is run by the JPR area of the EAG.
What lies ahead for us? The establishment of the European Personnel Recovery Centre (EPRC) as directed by the Steering Group held in Madrid on 3 July 2013. The EPRC Implementation Team recently relocated from the EAG Building into the Ground Floor of Hunter Block (the home of 22 Training Group). The Implementation Team will fully establish the EPRC as a standalone Centre before relocating to a permanent location elsewhere in Europe.
Hopefully, this will dispel the myth that we are not just the building at HQ Air with a bunch of flags out the front, and a BBQ out the back!
(Ed – I can confirm that the EAG coffee machine located in their kitchen makes a wonderful cup of coffee!)