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EU Defense Ministers Mull Rapid Response Force after Afghanistan’s Fall

FILE - Belgian army Special Forces are seen during the Black Blade military exercise involving several European Union countries and organised by the European Defence Agency at Florennes airbase, Belgium Nov. 30, 2016.

European Union defense ministers discussed Thursday how to better respond to future crises following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, including the creation of a rapid response force.

As they met in Slovenia to discuss lessons learned from the chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan, Germany proposed that willing coalition members be enabled to create a rapid deployment military force of 5,000 troops to respond to crises, with less reliance on the United States.

EU efforts to develop a rapid reaction force have been dormant for more than a decade. But the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan have forced the 27-nation bloc to revisit the issue.

The proposal to establish a 5,000-member force was first raised in May during a review of the bloc’s overall strategy. EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell said at Thursday’s meeting he hoped a plan would be finalized by November.

The EU’s overall strategy is expected to be finalized next year.

“It's clear that the need for more European defense has never been as much as evident as today after the events in Afghanistan,” Borrell said.

“Sometimes, something happens that pushes the history. It creates a breakthrough, and I think the Afghanistan events of this summer are one of these cases,” Borrell added.

The Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan and the rushed aerial evacuations of tens of thousands of people after the U.S. decision to pull out troops have exposed the EU’s reliance on the U.S.

While EU troops were on the sidelines during the evacuation, the U.S. supported European countries in efforts to evacuate their citizens and troops.