On 26 June, 2013 the first members of the National Support Element (NSE-A) were formally deployed to the EU Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR Somalia) off the Somali coast at a ceremony at the Logistics Command of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Defence Ministry has informed.
The ceremony was attended by Chief of the Operations Command of the Joint Staff Colonel Egidijus Karvelis, Commander of the Logistics Command Colonel Sigitas Mundris, commanders and division heads of the deployed personnel.
The NSE-A will be deployed to Djibouti (East Africa) to conduct service along with the logistic component of Operation ATALANTA. The NSE-A will be in charge of organising and coordinating logistic support to the Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment (AVPD) and procurement of necessary items and services, from food and water to accommodation. The Lithuanian unit is planned to take part in the EU NAVFOR Somalia till the end of this year.
‚ÄúWe are the first to deploy, so inevitably we will be faced with lack of specific experience, cultural differences, and ultimately ‚Äì unusual climatic conditions. Despite of that, we are travelling in a good mood, our training for the mission that had been running from the beginning of March has not passed in vain. We are absolutely ready to assist our colleagues from the AVPD,‚Äù said NSE-A Commander Captain D. Dilys.
The NSE-A comprises 18 troops: the first two of them, Captain D. Dilys and Captain A. Saviƒçius, are deployed to the mission a month prior to their colleagues. Their duty will be to prepare for accepting the AVPD loads and troops.
One Lithuanian naval staff officer has been posted to EU NAVFOR ‚Äì Operation ATALANTA Operational Headquarters in Northwood (UK) since early 2011. Lithuania will also deploy an officer to serve in a Dutch command ship from this August.
The largest European Union-led military operation EU NAVFOR ‚Äì 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 three non-EU member states are contributing the up to 2 thousand personnel of EU NAVFOR ‚Äì Operation ATALANTA.
EU NAVFOR ‚Äì 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‚Äôs participation in EU NAVFOR ‚Äì Operation ATALANTA till the end of 2015 with the approved annual quota of up to 30 military and civilian personnel that could be contributed.