Focus on Claudio Graziano, new chairman of the EU Military Committee

The EU’s Chiefs of Defense appointed Claudio Graziano as the new Chairman of the EU Military Committee, starting November 2018, for three years.  He will replace the Greek General Mikhail Kostarakos.

The role of the EU Military Committee

The EU Military Committee is composed of the Chiefs of Defense of the Member States. It is the highest military body set up within the Council. It directs all EU military activities and EU leaders with advice and recommendations on military matters and defence matters.

Namely, in crisis management situations, it evaluates the strategic military options developed by the EU Military Staff and forwards them to the Political and Security Committee together with its evaluation and military advice. On the basis of the military option selected by the Council, it authorises an Initial Planning Directive for the Operation Commander. During an operation, it monitors the proper execution of military operations conducted under the responsibility of the Operation Commander. With the current push for further integration, the committee’s role is likely to expand, notably on defence spending.

The EUMC has a permanent Chairman, selected by the Chiefs of Defence of the Member States and appointed by the Council for three years.


The new Chairman is expected on defense cooperation issues

On 9 November 2017, Claudio Graziano was elected by the other Chiefs of Defense as the next Chairman of the EU Military Committee. He will replace the Greek General Mikhail Kostarakos at a time when Europe is heading towards intensified coordination in defense and security: no later than 13 November, 23 EU countries formally signaled their intention to take part in closer military cooperation.

Since Claudio Graziano will take office in November 2018, he will take part in the annual review of EU national commitments to the cooperative effort. One of the requirements is for countries to raise their annual national military expenditures to 2 percent of GDP — an aspiration already adopted by NATO countries, but not EU states like Austria or Sweden, which are not members of the Atlantic alliance.

Why Claudio Graziano ?

Claudio Graziano © Wikimedia Commons

The Chairman of the EU Military Committee works closely Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. Therefore, Claudio Graziano’s candidacy might have been boosted by the fact that he comes from Italy, rather than a country like France or Germany, which have large military industries and stand to gain financially from the expected big increases in defense spending.

However, Claudio Graziano has significant expertise. He served as the Chief of the Italian Defense General Staff since March 2015, after having been Chief of Cabinet of the Italian Minister of Defence (February 2010) and Chief of Staff of the Italian Army (December 2011). He also served as Commander of the NATO Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB) in Afghanistan and  Commander of the UN force (UNIFIL) in Lebanon.

He began his military career as an Alpine infantryman and spent the first part of his career serving in TRIDENTIA and in TAURINENSE Alpini Brigade in Turin – which was earmarked as a national contribution to NATO. He his therefore an expert in mountain and arctic warfare. As Colonel, he was Chief Plans and Policy Office in the Army General Staff, where he followed the modernization of the Italian Army and its transition from a conscript to a fully professional model.

Previously this year, Graziano was a candidate to lead NATO’s Military Committee, the top military body at alliance headquarters in Brussels. He lost to Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the chief of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces.

Photo credit : © European Council – EU Military meeting 7 Nov 2017 / Free download

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