Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren of the Swedish Royal Navy, the new Force Commander for the EU’s Op Atalanta Task Force, writes in his marine blog:
After months of preparation the day came when I had the great honor to take command of the EU Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta on the Italian destroyer ITS Andrea Doria’s helicopter deck. The ceremony took place in Djibouti’s port and in the presence of both our Swedish Supreme Commander and the Italian Supreme Commander was both a solemn and dignified ceremony.
My Italian colleague, Rear Admiral Guido Rando, has led operation for seven months and I sensed a very happy but also tired admiral that now could take a well deserved rest after a superb job. Now it’s up to us as FHQ to focus all our efforts and energy to provide the units involved in Operation Atalanta with the best possible conditions to solve their tasks. It gives me and my Swedish colleagues in the FHQ valuable experience leading a multinational naval force in a complex operation environment.
Pirate attacks and the number of hijacked ships have been at a very low level over the past two years. Last year saw only four hijacking attempts and none of them were successful. The last successful hijacking took place in 2013. The success depends on several factors; the multinational presence of warships and the coordinated cooperation between the different sjöstyrkorna in the area and safeguard cases of civilian shipping, including armed guards on board to name a few. Although Operation Atalanta had great success, we must not forget that 26 people are still held hostage by pirates and that there never been any disarmament of pirate networks in the area. The former pirates occupy themselves not with piracy right now; so what, they employ themselves?
And then what?
The question that the EU will need to analyze and make decisions about is whether and how the EU wants to contribute to the maintenance of maritime security in the area when the EU Naval Forces mandate expires in December 2016.
I do not intend to answer that question in this post but I will present a few factors that I believe should weigh heavily when the EU Member States will discuss continuing involvement in the Gulf of Aden and around the Horn of Africa. Gulf of Aden separates the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Two regions where climate change, poverty, demographic change, terrorism, organized crime and failed states is a fact. In these regions there are also raw material resources in the form of oil and gas that are vital for Europe, but also Asia’s economies. GoA is also one of the most strategic sea routes interconnecting the European and Asian economies with each other.
We are, and operate, in a region where the global challenges are manifold and where adverse developments in these areas have direct consequences for our security, growth and prosperity. If we in the EU can contribute to maintaining maritime security in this region creates the prerequisites and release resources to create and support a positive development for Somalia and its people.
Original source: Forsvarsmakten [in Swedish] Reposted by kind permission of: Jonas Haggren
Force Commander, the EU Naval Force Somalia – Operation ATALANTA
Re-used with permission from OCEANUSLive.org