Defence Forces Chief nominated for highest EU military position

Vice Admiral Mellett has been nominated by the Government as chair of the EU’s military committee, the highest military role in the union. (Pic: Alan Betson, Irish Times)

The Government has nominated the Defence Forces’ Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, for appointment to the highest military position within the European Union.

If appointed chairman of the European Union Military Committee, on which he has been Ireland’s representative for the past two years, Vice Admiral Mellett would give military advice directly to the EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, currently Federica Mogherini.

The position, which is for a three-year term of office, will become vacant in November 2018 when the incumbent, Gen Mikhail Kostarakos of Greece, retires. If appointed, Vice Admiral Mellett would relinquish his command as Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, to which he was appointed in September 2015.

The Minister of State for Defence, Paul Keogh, said he [Mellett] was a “progressive and innovative chief of staff”, adding that Ireland is one of the strongest contributors to Common Security and Defence Policy operations and, in particular, the role [these] can play in UN-mandated peacekeeping operations.

“In that regard, the nomination of Vice Admiral Mellett as chairman of the [EU Military Committee] reinforces that commitment and provides a positive and valuable profile for Ireland in the area of security and defence within the EU.”

Previous chairs of the committee have included the chiefs of staff of the Swedish and Finnish defence forces. For an Irish chief of staff to occupy the chair of the committee would be seen in Defence Force circles as bestowing very considerable prestige on Ireland.