Blog AnalysisMissions Operationsmaritime piracy

Do we still need a NATO anti-piracy mission in the Indian Ocean?

(BRUSSELS2, exclusive) We can ask ourselves this question. Because in the Indian Ocean, alongside the various national operations, there are no less than three operations carried out by NATO or EU countries: EUnavfor Atalanta for the EU, CTF 151 under the aegis of the Americans and Ocean Shield for NATO. Three missions which do, more or less, the same thing, sometimes with the same States which sometimes lend their resources to one, sometimes to the other. In these times of economic difficulty and multiplication of crises, we can therefore legitimately wonder whether such duplication is really necessary.

Question posed openly between Directors of Defense

This question was also officially asked in Sopot during a meeting of the defense directors of the 27 held in July. According to the information that came back to us, at least three countries – Portugal and Italy, joined by France – openly questioned the need for NATO to maintain a separate operation; France went even further, believing that the Alliance did not need to worry about this anti-piracy activity. One state openly opposed this point of view; It will come as no surprise to anyone that it is… the United Kingdom.

A more political than operational reason for maintaining 2 missions

It is certain today that both EU and NATO missions are suffering from a reduction in the resources committed. At the EU General Staff, there was alarm in August that the naval resources allocated to the anti-piracy operation were below the minimum standard. The NATO mission has, in fact, only one political justification: to allow Denmark (which has chosen not to participate in the military operations of the European defense policy and benefits from a opt-out on this subject) and to a lesser extent for Turkey to find a political “umbrella” to accommodate its boats without having to be incorporated into an American CTF type mission. That's all…

NB: We may wonder why the two organizations – NATO and the EU – do not work together more to avoid a duplication of missions and resources. Faced with the resurgence of piracy in West Africa, we can also wonder whether it would not be possible to geographically share the areas of action. AF Rassmussen and Cathy Ashton meet regularly to discuss cooperation between the two organizations they lead; this subject deserves to be not only put on the table but decided upon.

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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