Military approves EU Chad mission Military officials have approved a European peacekeeping force in Chad and the Central African Republic. The contingent will have the task of protecting refugees from Darfur and people displaced by internal fighting. EU ministers will still have to rubber-stamp the 3,500-strong force in time for a launch in early February. Diplomats said that a shortfall of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft had been solved by further contributions from France, Belgium and Poland. Repeated delays The mission has been delayed several times since November 2007, but a French government spokesman said on Thursday that President Nicolas Sarkozy had authorised additional resources to help "unblock" the situation. The Italian government has also offered to provide a hospital. Chiefs of staff and EU ambassadors will consider the plans which are then likely to go before an EU Council of Ministers meeting at the end of January. Friday's military meeting in Brussels was chaired by Irish commander Lieutenant General Pat Nash who is due to run the operation from its headquarters near Paris. More at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7181907.stm Interesting to see that at the same time the French Gvt is commiting more of the army's already scarce ressources to yet another Op while talking about drastic reductions of its format. Several yet to be named regiments are expected to be disbanded in the coming months (especially artillery units, with MLRS and ADA taking the brunt of the cuts). Austrians, swedes, belgians, irish, poles, italians, slovenes and probably a few others should also be present in Chad until the UN takes over next year.