Lithuanian military contingent that had been serving in the European Union-led efforts against piracy and armed robbery at sea Operation ATALANTA since August earlier this year completed its mission on 1 December 2013 and handed over the mission flag to a Serbian team, the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence has informed.
Sixteen infantry service members of the Lithuanian Armed Forces formed the Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment (AVPD) to protect a World Food Programme (WFP) chartered vessel delivering humanitarian assistance to Somalia from pirate attacks.
The majority of the detachment serve with the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion and joined the European Union‚Äôs counter-piracy operation, Naval Force (EU NAVFOR), Somalia ‚Äì Operation Atalanta, under the lead of Captain Aivaras Pliatkus.
Lithuanian military were presented with the EU Operation ATALANTA medals at a ceremony in Djibouti, capital of Djibouti, also attended by Chief of the Joint Staff of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Brigadier General Vilmantas Tamo≈°aitis.
The operational tour of two more Lithuanian officers who are ensuring logistic provision for Lithuanian military and one officer serving at the ATALANTA flagship will soon come to an end too.
One officer will continue representing Lithuania at the EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters in Northwood, UK, after the completion of the AVPD mission.
The largest European Union-led military operation EU NAVFOR Somalia ‚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 World Food Programme 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 Somalia ‚Äì Operation ATALANTA.
Lithuania joined ATALANTA in 2011 by commissioning a staff officer of the Lithuanian Navy to the Operation HQ Northwood, UK.
EU NAVFOR Somalia ‚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‚Äôs participation in the EU-led multinational operations contributes to international crisis management efforts and strengthens the Commons Security and Defence Policy.