maritime piracy

Headquarters for EUNav Somalia: Northwood and Djibouti?

(MOD – UK Ministry of Defense)

Which headquarters could be used for the future EU naval operation off the coast of Somalia – in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean – which can be called “EuNav” in the context of the fight against piracy ? The question is one of the questions to be resolved for the rest of the operation.

Seven military operation headquarters (OHQ) can be used by the EU: that of NATO Shape in Mons as part of the “Berlin Plus” agreements, five HQs established in one of the EU member countries (1) and the military headquarters in Brussels. Three are currently operational or activated: Mons (Shape) for Operation Althea, Paris (Mont-Valérien) for Operation Eufor in Chad/RCA and Brussels, which is used for pre-operation planning but does not lead any operations.

THEOHQ – operation headquarters

For the OHQ – operation headquarters – of “EuNav” Aden, one option was immediately excluded: “the Shape solution does not seem practicable” it is mentioned. Failing to be at the Brussels headquarters, the OHQ could therefore be located north of London in Northwood. The United Kingdom has more or less informally submitted its application, and seems prepared to defend it to the end... Established in 1996, on a permanent basis, this operational center is the headquarters of the joint British forces. He is directly responsible for and coordinates external deployments (Iraq, Afghanistan, Balkans). Made up of around 630 people from the three arms – according to the British Ministry of Defense – it is led in turn by one of its senior officers, currently Lieutenant General Sir Nicholas Houghton. It also serves as the headquarters of NATO's maritime component (Allied Maritime Component Command Headquarters Northwood = in NATO jargon: CC MAR HQ Northwood). The advantage is certain: having a district already operational and being able to ensure liaison with NATO (all the more useful as the CTF 150, combined task force 150, also crosses the region as part of the “Immovable Freedom” operation. ”). Another advantage: the international maritime office is also located in London.

The big handicap and disadvantage of Northwood is precisely there: connoted by NATO, it will be more difficult for “EuNav” to include other ships, the Russian navy for example, in the operation (the Russian navy seems willing to intervene (2)). The hypothesis of an OHQ located in Brussels – or even in Mont-Valérien – is therefore not excluded. On the other hand, the use of the Larissa OHQ in Greece does not seem possible: not being operational and the Greeks not having proposed it; similarly, the Italians and Germans did not offer their OHQ.
Le FHQ – force headquarters

The FHQ – force headquarters – could be located in Djibouti, next to the French military base (the largest French base abroad). Permanently established, France has – as reported by the General Staff of the Armed Forces – around 2900 men, helicopter (5 Puma, 2 Gazelle, 2 Puma, 1 Fennec) and aerial (10 Mirage 2000, 1 C160, 1 Bréguet Atlantic) and several ships. It had hosted air assets during the attack on Spanish boats. The country's authorities seem to agree, at first glance, to welcome Europeans. And, on the French side, a system identical to that set up in Chad – with the EFT (French Elements in Chad) – could be found. That is to say: clear identification of the European headquarters in a separate unit but sharing of certain logistical resources. With an advantage, over Chad, the need for “neutrality”, in relation to the French base, is not as imperative.

(updated Oct 10): Rome has also proposed its OHQ. With Brussels and Northwoord there are now three possibilities…

(1) Northwood (United Kingdom), Potsdam, Berlin (Germany); Rome (Italy), Larissa (Greece), Mont-Valérien – Paris (France).

(2) Read:Operation EU Navco Somalia, the 2nd phase is getting ready

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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