EU mulling joint military task force for the Central African Republic

BRUSSELS, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The European Union has proposed sending a joint military task force to the Central African Republic to aid French troops there, diplomatic officials say.

A draft EU proposal was sent to embassies Wednesday and is scheduled to discussed by ambassadors from member states in a meeting Friday, reported Thursday.


Diplomats say the proposal includes three possible mandates: securing main roads between the Central African Republic and neighboring Cameroon, protecting the airport in Bangui to allow French troops to conduct other operations, and protecting civilians and international aid workers.

The force of 700 to 1,000 troops would be modeled on a 2006 EU operation to help U.N. peacekeepers. Soldiers from member states would be commanded by a senior EU military staff official.

It would not use "battlegroups," rapid reaction forces created seven years ago but which have yet to see action. If the proposal is accepted Friday, a second meeting would be held later in January to finish planning.

Poland has pledged a small number of troops. The United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium and Germany have said they would supply equipment.

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