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EU reserve forces will focus on supporting roles

Friday, May 12, 2017


European reserve forces.


European militaries have been turning to defence and security challenges closer to home, ranging from counterterrorism and responses to the migration crisis to combating hybrid warfare threats generated by an assertive Russia. This increases the relevance of Europe’s reserve forces, which have been transformed to make them nimbler and immediately useable in a crisis and to support civilian authorities, although there is considerable variation between nations.


  • The worsening security situation and tensions with Russia have led some countries to reintroduce conscription.
  • In the long term, this will probably lead to growth in reserve forces.
  • Active forces would come under strain if forced to respond to a domestic contingency while also deployed abroad.
  • There is a danger that mobilising reserves will be seen by other states as an escalatory act.

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