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Lithuanian military on preparation for the operation in Somalia

2013.04.29
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Lithuania is increasing its contribution to the European Union-led operations by deploying an Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment (AVPD) to the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia – Operation ATALANTA off the Somali coast as of the second semester of 2013. The Lithuanian AVPD will be protecting a World Food Program (WFP) chartered ship delivering humanitarian aid to various ports in Somalia.

 

The AVPD will be 16-strong manned mainly by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion. Captain Aivaras Pliatkus (Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion) will be heading the AVPD throughout the rotation till the end of 2013. The Lithuanian unit will take over the task of protecting a WFP vessel from Finland.

 

“EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA is not a routine task for an infantry servicemember. Above all, it concerns naval, not land action, therefore we have been attending a training phase to enhance our readiness for naval tasks from the beginning of April, where our colleagues from the Lithuanian Navy and the Special Operations Forces are a great help,” Commander AVPD Capt A.Pliatkus commented on the pre-deployment training.

 

The Lithuanian military began preparing for the deployment with EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA early in 2013. The training schedule includes individual skill refresher exercises, familiarisation with the mission environment, basics of navigation, and live-firing from aboard a ship on the sea.

 

One Lithuanian naval staff officer has been posted to EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA Operational Headquarters in Northwood (UK) since early 2011. Lithuania will also deploy an officer to serve with a Dutch command ship from this August.

 

The largest European Union-led military operation EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA was launched late in 2008 in response to the rising levels of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. Warships deployed on EU NAVFOR escort WFP ships delivering aid to the Somali people, deter and apprehend pirates and armed robbers in the area of operation, complete monitoring of fishing activity, and conduct other tasks in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Currently, 23 EU and 3 non-EU member states are contributing the up to 2 thousand personnel of EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA.

 

The inception of EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA has visibly decreased the success rates of piracy acts, particularly since launching the AVPDs in the autumn of 2011. For example, 36 piracy-related incidents were recorded in 2012 in comparison to 176 recorded in 2011. Over 200 vessels have been protected and 150 suspected pirates have been transferred to competent authorities since launching the operation. At the moment there are 2 vessels in pirate hands and approximately 60 crewmembers held hostage.

 

EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA is not the only EU-led operation that Lithuania is contributing to. From this spring Lithuanian military instructors have been deployed to the EU training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) to provide training for Malian military. The EUTM Mali objective is to enhance operational capabilities and activities of the Malian Armed Forces in order to incapacitate it to ensure territorial integrity of the country and to counter attacks of terrorist groups inside the country.

 

Lithuania participates in the EU Common Security and Defence Policy and contributes to the development of the EU multinational rapid crisis response capabilities through participation in the EU-led multinational operations and missions. On April 23, 2013, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania prolonged the mandate of Lithuania’s participation in EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA till the end of 2015 with the approved annual quota of up to 30 military and civilian personnel that could be contributed.

 

Find more on EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA at: http://eunavfor.eu/key-facts-and-figures

 

Personnel of the AVPD on board of N42 “Jotvingis” (Lithuanian Navy) during a naval exercise, April 2013. By 1st Lt Donatas Juzikis.

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