Operation Focus ups EUNavFor Med inter-operability

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The European Union (EU) Mediterranean naval force tasked with enforcing a United Nations (UN) arms embargo on Libya staged a focus operation involving aerial and maritime assets.

Aptly named Operation Focus, the exercise saw tactics utilised to concentrate available assets – in time and space – to more effectively fulfil assigned tasks a communique stated. Tasks included deterring illegal trafficking, monitoring merchant traffic in the area of operation, detecting and locating possible UN arms embargo breakers as well as intercepting and boarding to inspecting cargos.

An additional component was engaging the Mediterranean maritime community by way of friendly visits to improve multi-domain shared awareness.

Three ships – Italian Navy flagship ITS Grecale  (F571), HS Themistocles (F456) from the Hellenic Navy and French frigate FS Commandant Blaison (F793)  were the major maritime platforms in the operation. Aerial support was from French, Greek, Italian, German, Luxembourgian and Polish maritime patrol aircraft, mostly Orion P3s with satellite imagery compliments of the European Satellite Centre (SatCen).

The concentration of assets for the exercise provided opportunities for force advanced integration training to further boost inter-operability.

The Irini communique on the exercise also noted a recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) renewal of the resolution authorising the Mediterranean task force for another year.

The resolution gives the EU naval force the right to inspect vessels on the high seas off Libya believed to be in violation of the arms embargo imposed on that country. The one year renewal will pave the way for a strategic review of Irini’s mandate, with possible implementation of a broader range of tasks related to maritime security in the Mediterranean Sea in the offing.