Get Connected 2019

EU-NATO Cooperation | Col. Bernard Markey, EUMS



Colonel Bernard Markey was born in Dublin on 3 May 1963. He was commissioned as an officer in the Irish Defence Forces in 1985. He subsequently joined the Military Police Corps in which he served in a variety of appointments both at home and abroad. His most recent service in the Irish Defence Forces was as Deputy Provost Marshal and subsequently as a Staff Officer in Training Branch (J7), Defence Forces Headquarters, Dublin.


He completed his senior staff course in 2008 at the Military College, Ireland. He has also taken a number of Military Police Provost and investigative courses both at home and abroad with the Irish Defence Forces, the Irish Civil Police, NATO, Justice Rapid Response and the International Institute for Criminal Investigation, where he currently serves on the Board of Directors. Colonel Markey holds a degree (BA) in politics and a degree in law (LLB) from the National University of Ireland at Galway. He has a master’s degree in international relations from Dublin City University and a master’s degree in defence studies from the Military College, Ireland.


Colonel Markey has served with the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and with NATO forces in Afghanistan (ISAF), Bosnia Herzegovina (SFOR) and Kosovo (KFOR). He has deployed with European Union missions to Bosnia Herzegovina (EUFOR) and to Darfur, Sudan where he acted as Liaison Officer to the African Union. More recently he served in Mali with the European Union Training Mission (EUTM). Earlier in his career (1996), Colonel Markey availed of a three year career break to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Chechnya and Central Asia. He also deployed to Rwanda in 1994 with the Irish Defence Forces.


Colonel Markey is currently serving with the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) in Brussels, where he holds the appointment of Assistant Chief of Staff External Relations.



Colonel Bernard Markey commenced his presentation with a brief summary of his interesting and varied career; and he commented that Malta and Ireland will be the only native English language ‘guardians’ in the EU post-Brexit, so be prepared for some ‘tweaking of the Lexicon’.


Colonel Markey talked about the role of the EUMS and its cooperation and communication with NATO at the institutional level, and offered some personal observations on obstacles to good communication and cooperation in military and security operational deployments.

The EUMS is composed of up to 180 military staff from all EU Member States. The role of the EUMS is to provide military expertise consistent with the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) to the High Representative/Vice-President, the European External Action Service, the European Union Military Committee, the Council and other EU bodies. This provides the European Union with the operational capacity to deploy civilian missions and military operations beyond the borders of the EU.


EUTM Mali is a very good example of an EU military mission with a training or non-executive focus. This mission is currently composed of troops from 23 different EU member states and five non-member states. In line with the EU Strategy for Development and Security in the Sahel, the mission supports the training and reorganisation of the Malian Armed Forces in order to improve its military capacity. The challenges that this mission must overcome are considerable. Apart from the logistics required to sustain up to 600 military personnel in a landlocked African country, there are communication challenges at cultural and technical levels. One communication imperative for respective EU military components is to communicate effectively within the force and with the external training audience; in many cases, notice boards are a more realistic means than the internet. In order to accomplish this, commanders in the field must be flexible, innovative and above all, patient.


The EUMS has regular dialogue with NATO at formal and informal levels. It must be emphasised that the EUMS as part of CSDP does not see itself as a competitor to NATO. To quote from the European Union Global Strategy 2016, “When it comes to collective defence, NATO remains the primary framework for most member States.” CSDP is a complimentary security effort by the EU in order to strengthen the security of its citizens. The EUMS is one instrument in a layered toolbox that allows for a military security effort beyond EU borders in either an executive role (EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia Herzegovina) or a non-executive training role as with EUTM Mali.


Military mobility is one example of successful EU-NATO dialogue and is of equal interest to both institutions. The object is to ensure that NATO military forces can be deployed with maximum efficiency within the European theatre.


Colonel Markey emphasised that, in his personal experience, military and security communication and cooperation is overly reliant and focused on technology and insufficiently cognisant of cultural mores and tradition. Joint military forces such as NATO or EUMS face multiple challenges in ensuring that the mission is clearly communicated among the troops and local population. Dissemination of information however must take technical diversity and cultural norms into account and must take advantage of information channels that people use. When serving with the African Union in Darfur, he recognised the value of traditional dissemination platforms. This meant establishing relations with local media interlocutors such as radio stations or the local market place to get the message across.


Key take-away

The challenge of communication and cooperation in many modern military and security operations, whether under NATO or EU command, is cultural appropriateness and technical accessibility.


Download Powerpoint Presentation:  EU-NATO Cooperation – Col. Bernard Markey, EUMS

Comments are closed.

Close Search Window