HC Deb 01 May 2003 vol 404 c448W
Mr. Breed

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what developments have been made regarding the European Amphibious Initiative; and if he will make a statement. [109082]

Mr. Ingram

Since the inception of the European Amphibious Initiative (EAI) at the end of December 2000, progress has been made in determining doctrine, concepts, and procedures—although opportunities to conduct a dedicated EAI exercise have been limited.

Work to date has centred on a structured series of Steering and Working Group meetings between the Naval staffs of the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Additionally there is a more tactical level annual EAI Seminar, followed by an Amphibious Force Commanders' conference.

It was planned to use Exercise Destined Glory 02, a NATO amphibious exercise in the Mediterranean, to test the practical implementation of evolving concepts and other work, but the commitment of the Royal Marines to operations in Afghanistan meant that UK participation was greatly reduced. Since then continuing high operational tempo has made it impossible to plan a further exercise.

At the most recent Steering Group Meeting, member nations resolved to take the initiative forward, and the aim, operational commitments permitting, is to hold an EAI exercise in 2004.