Ideas for a European Army have long been debated within the EU, which has as its purpose a civilian alliance - thus many have long argued it doesn't need a military force - which would also be controversial as a parallel force to NATO.
But Germany along with four other European Union countries are now seeking to establish a new EU "rapid reaction force" in order to respond quickly to any future military crisis. The group including Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia is pursuing the initiative, citing the lessons learned from Afghanistan and the disastrous pullout which saw many European nationals get stranded in the Taliban-controlled country, with not enough flights or personnel available to evacuate them.
German media outlet dpa days ago confirmed the plan after it obtained new internal documents, describing that the five countries are aiming "to expand the existing EU battle groups, which are multinational military units of 1,500 personnel each on standby to respond to crises."
"The new force is expected to include space and cyber capabilities, along with special forces and air transport," the report indicated.
Currently, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is in favor of the initiative, saying in a recent interview that EU forces within NATO are only able to conduct defensive operations within the context of United States support. Thus there's a desire for a more independent force that can deploy rapidly without seeking broader US and NATO approval first, or going through NATO hurdles.
When rumors of the plan were circulating earlier this year, one EU official was quoted as explaining that "What we have in mind is… to be able to deploy quickly this response force if for instance you have a legitimate government in a specific country which is afraid of a possible takeover by a terrorist group."
However, there's this interesting pushback by Germany's Left Party cited in Deutsche Welle:
Meanwhile, Germany's far-left Left party immediately denounced the plan, saying that leaders were drawing the wrong conclusions from Afghanistan.
"The EU does not need a new intervention force. The EU should be a civilian alliance," deputy party head Tobias Pflueger told dpa. The problem in Afghanistan was that nations had attempted to "democratize a country by military means," he said.
In the end it sounds like an EU reaction force is an attempt to regain control of foreign policy among some European countries recently frustrated at being dragged along by US interventionism abroad within the context of NATO, with Libya being another foremost example.
It seems the heart of the problem could be EU nations' inability to stand up to the United States or more powerful NATO states like France, when it comes to decision-making on situations such as toppling Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi or far-flung battlefields in central Asia.