The United Kingdom, as part of the European Union, contributes part of its armed forces to the EU Battlegroup scheme. This scheme puts a battlegroup composed of elements from one or more EU member states at the disposal of the European Council to be deployed as required. As one of the larger EU members, the United Kingdom contributes to two individual battlegroups. One of these is made up entirely of British forces, while the other has the UK as the "framework" (i.e. lead) nation in the formation, in conjunction with forces from the Netherlands. The Netherlands also contributes to a second battlegroup, alongside Germany and Finland.
The two UK led battlegroups are formed from units declared to the UK's Joint Rapid Reaction Force, a rapid deployment element formed either from 3 Commando Brigade or 16 Air Assault Brigade, which are the elite commando and paratroop formations. The UK/Dutch battlegroup is drawn from the UK/NL Landing Force, which sees a battalion of the Korps Mariniers fully integrated within 3 Commando Brigade.
The British battlegroups, along with the others from other EU nations, are placed on standby for possible deployment for six months on a rotational basis. At any one time, two battlegroups are available for deployment. The single British battlegroup was declared during the second half of 2008, alongside a Franco-German battlegroup. The UK/NL battlegroup will be on standby for deployment in the first half of 2010, alongside the Polish unit.
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