Monthly Archives: August 2016

Royal Netherlands Navy in Operation Atalanta-3

Launched in December 2008 under auspices of the European Common Security and Defence Policy, EU NAVFOR in Operation Atalanta is the first European Union Naval Force for countering the Piracy threats in the western Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa covering 4,700,000 square nautical miles.              

A view to the Naval history delineates that particularly from 17th century onward–British Royal Navy, the Royal Navy of the Netherlands along with la France, in a permanent and consistent paradigm have maintained the enduring supremacy at Sea, while interlacing their ancient puissance to the presence time.

Since 2009, the Royal Netherlands Navy has been an important part of EU NAVFOR– holding a crucial role in Operation Atalanta,  not only for deploying its Naval troops yet also by providing the Flagships for the operation.                                                                                                                                                                                       Its Naval warship, HNLMS Johan de Witt since 2010 has been routinely in the Indian Ocean as the operational HQ at Sea for many Force Commanders– and the long term Flagship for the operation.





The HNLMS Johan De Witt, seemingly an ordinary Naval Vessel commissioned to live with the waves– yet has proved its life beyond that ……   The white Ship of  Den Helder, with its extraordinary mode of  speed and maneuver,  has held many  predominant historical occasions from Marines para jump, to the Military medal ceremony— and as the host to the numerous historical convene, like the one which took place in October 2013 between the three Force Commanders from EU NAVFOR, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), and the NATO Operation Ocean Shield on its board to confirm their operational joint efforts. 

Force Commanders from Combined Maritime Forces, Commodore Jeremy Blunden, the EU Naval Force, Commodore Peter Lenselink and NATO, Commodore Henning Amundsen, on board the EU Naval Force flagship, HNLMS Johan de Witt. 2013




Force Commander Combined Maritime Forces, Commodore Jeremy Blunden (leftt) the Force Commander from EU Naval Force, Commodore Peter Lenselink (centre) and Force Commander  from NATO, Commodore Henning Amundsen ( right) on board of the EU Naval Force Flagship, HNLMS Johan de Witt.  October 7, 2013  © EU NAVFOR



The last time that  the HNLMS Johan De Witt was missioned as the EU NAVFOR  Flagship was in May 2015, under the Command of Commodore Luyckx, the current Force Commander.  While the Royal Netherlands Naval leadership will continue to be as often in the EU NAVFOR– the return of its white Ship,  the HNLMS Johan De Witt, with its legend will be also on the affirmative side. 

  1. Additional:  HNLMS Johan de Witt, successfully conducted a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) with the Royal Australian Naval supply Ship HMAS. 
  2. EU Naval Force Warship HNLMS Johan de Witt carries out Search and Rescue Exercise with teams from the Seychelles and EUCAP Nestor.

News from EU NAVAL Force in Operation Atalanta         
News from Royal Netherlands Navy                                         News from UK Royal Navy  
News  from Royal Australian Navy                    

Source: EU NAVFOR.  Image-1 the EU Naval Force Flagship HNLMS Johan de Witt August 8, 2013 © EU NAVFOR

By Editor in Chief  (Copy righted material)

‘Strong Guard 2016’ has concluded its Training

Exercise  Strong Guard 2016  was a unique US-European Military Training Exercise, executed during a three day time frame, to boost the close Partnership and the Interoperability of U.S National Guard, Military Police Battalion, Marines, with the Land-Forces and National Guards of Lithuania and Latvia. The Training was finalized successfully with a Military ceremony on August 14, 2016.

Reaffirmed by the U.S Army, “Strong Guard 2016 demonstrated the continued U.S. commitment to the security of the NATO Allies in the light of the increased tension in Eastern Europe.” August 2016 © U.S Army Europe

Military Police Battalion, 177th Military Police Brigade, Michigan National Guard EUCOM August 19, 2016





Military Police Battalion, Military Police Brigade, Michigan National Guard during the official closing ceremony of ‘Strong Guard 2016’  in Latvia.  August 14, 2016.© US Army/Staff Sgt. Kimberly Bratic

There were Soldiers, in variety of uniforms…… presenting their Brigades, Battalions, and Units– stood in salute in the closing ceremony.  In a normal day or an ordinary condition, after three days and nights of  heavy  Training, which had challenged the toughness of Minds and the strength of Physique beyond all limits–  one would had resigned before the finishing line and to exhaustion. But far from that– these were the Soldiers that have surpassed every extremes.  Standing firm, …..their eyes were radiating with the the heights of pride……, and strength was yet visibly depicted in every steps of their movements….. as they marched towards the Garrison at their Commander’s behest. 

News from Strong Europe US Army Europe                
News from US Naval Forces Europe-Africa
News from US Air Force Europe-Africa
News from U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria

Source: US Army Europe/Staff Sgt. Kimberly Bratic.  By Catherine S. Schmidt, Editor in Chief (Copyrighted material)

The United States has maximized its Support for NATO Allies in Europe

Earlier this year the United States announced to increase its financial support to NATO Allies for strengthening U.S-European Collective Defense. The extra financial  insertion comes at the time that the European Security has been encountering many form of challenges including the unprepared Cyber Defense,  the mass influx of illegal migrations and refugees, the affect of Conflicts and War in several African States and the Middle Eastern Region, the threats of ISIL and the Extremists– just to name a few.  

In line with this financial increase,  President Obama’s Budget request for 2017   has highlighted the funding of $3.42 billion for European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).     US European Command 2016

July 2016 © US EUCOM/ US Mission NATO 

News from Strong Europe US Army Europe                News  from the White House 
News from US Naval Forces Europe-Africa
News from US Air Force Europe-Africa
News from US Mission to NATO                                        News from US EUCOM     

By Editor in Chief

An Exclusive Interview with the U.S Army Europe-1

US naval Europe Africa May 22, 2016


In the Exclusive Interview Series, this time we have the special occasion of presenting our interview with the United States Army Europe. The interview has been conducted with the Team of Public Affairs of the U.S Army Europe HQ in Germany.


Q:  The United States and Europe are immensely interconnected, not only by Historical Heritage, Values and Ideals for centuries, but also by Political Landscape, Security and Defense.

  • Would you please elaborate on the importance of this Relation on the domain of Security and Defense.

Public Affairs of the U.S Army Europe HQ in Germany:  Our history is absolutely the foundation of what connects the United States and Europe. During the Warsaw Summit in July President Barack Obama said, “In this challenging moment, I want to take this opportunity to state clearly what will never change – and that is the unwavering commitment of the United States to the security and defense of Europe, to our transatlantic relationship, to our commitment to our common defense.”

Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade join NATO Allies. US Army Europe May 2014

This is also the case for the U.S. Army’s role with our European Allies and partners. Although the security environment has dramatically evolved over the last 25 years, it is vital for us to continue to work and train with our Allies and partners. Multinational exercises like Swift Response, Anakonda, Inherent Resolve, Saber Guardian and other training opportunities benefit Army Europe Soldiers as well as our National Guard and Reserve components. We know firsthand that training with our Allies, partners, and NATO better prepares us all for future operational requirements.

Such operations and exercises provide our U.S. Army Soldiers with necessary training and valuable skills needed to operate in this theater. They also facilitate building relations with our Allies and partners, which is just as important. Everything we do should demonstrate to our European Allies and partners that we understand our responsibility and commitment to offer assurance.

Q: Strong Europe’ could you please illustrate this crucial aspiration of the U.S Armed-Forces in Europe and how the U.S Army present, project and implement this Concept?

Public Affairs of the U.S Army Europe HQ in Germany: By looking at the stories on our website, the content on our social media channels and following the coverage of the exercises, you will see that “Strong Europe” is not a catch phrase, it is a commitment.

This commitment is the corner stone of the framework that makes up everything U.S. Army Europe contributes on behalf of the Army, to EUCOM, AFRICOM, CENTCOM, and NATO. Europe is a complex and dynamic security environment that presents evolving challenges. With the contributions and capabilities provided by our Allies, partners and regionally allocated forces this strategic effect can be reached.

The Multinational Battle Group-East Military Provost Marshals office gives brief to NATO Forces Kosovo in Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, July 26, 2016 EUCOM





U.S. Army Europe operates with five pillars to support our priorities. They are: Empowering Junior Leaders; Army Reserve and National Guard support; Allies and Partners; Regionally Allocated Forces; and Dynamic Presence. All of these components make up “Strong Europe”.

Read more

The United States Navy in Operation Atalanta-1

Along with other Naval Missions, ranging from Training, Maneuvers, Joint Exercises with its various Naval Global partners–  Patrolling and Monitoring from Coast to Coast for establishing and to maintain the Maritime Security, the  United States Navy  has been simultaneously supporting the European Naval Force in Operation Atalanta.

One of its main Vessel in supporting the Operation Atalanta is the USNS Laramie.  ITS-Carabiniere-approaching-the-USNS-Laramie-for-RAS December 2015 EU NAVFOR


U.S Naval Replenishment Ship ‘USNS Laramie’ (center) off the Coast of Somalia,  supporting Operation Atalanta. December 17, 2015 © EU NAVFOR 

Equipped with Chopper deck, the gigantic U.S Naval ‘Laramie’  is a Military Sealift Command Replenishment oiler of HENRY J. KAISER  Class,  launched in 1995.  Since then the Ship has been, mostly, in a long  journey Missions from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Aden, providing a vital support to the U.S and European Naval Forces– as to enumerate from Aircraft and Helicopter Carriers, Frigates, Corvettes,  Combat, Assault, and the Paroling Ships.

As a part of this ongoing Operational Support and the Replenishment at Sea, the USNS Laramie met in a close contact with  the Operation Atalanta’s new Flagship, HNLMS Tromp  of the Royal Netherlands Navy  on August 8th in the Atalanta Operational field, the Gulf of Aden.

The EU NAVFOR Operational Force Commander, Commodore Luyckx was welcomed for a visit by the Commanding Officer of U.S Naval Replenishment Vessel, Captain William Wiggins.

Official references of the recent time:

  1. United States Navy Supply Ship Supports Operation Atalanta With A Combined Replenishment At Sea
  2. US Supply Ship USNS Laramie Supports Operation Atalanta off the Coast of Somalia
  3. US Navy Ship Supports EU Naval Force  Ships Off The Coast Of Somalia
  4. EU Naval Force Warship ESPS Infanta Cristina Carries out Replenishment at Sea with Supply Ship USNS Laramie
  5. EU Naval Force Warship ESPS Navarra has carried out Replenishment at sea (RAS) with re-supply tankers, including the US logistical ship USNS Laramie

By Editor in Chief, Catherine S. Schmidt (Copyrighted material) 

The Swedish Naval Leadership in Operation Atalanta

At the end of July on the 29 in the UK HQ Office of the European Naval Force OP. Atalanta, Rear Admiral Cristobal Gonzalez-Aller  from Spanish Navy assumed the leadership of Deputy Operation Commander from Rear Admiral Jonas Wikstrom of Swedish Navy.

Rear Admiral Jonas Wikstrom has been the  Deputy Operation Commander European Union Naval Force Somalia since January 2016. His outstanding leadership during his term covered the entire aspects of the OP Atalanta and the enhancement of the Maritime Security off the Horn of Africa and in the Indian Ocean.

Rear Admiral Jonas Wikstrӧm (right) and Rear Admiral Cristobal Gonzalez-Aller (left) July 2016




Rear Admiral Jonas Wikstrom  of Swedish Navy (left) and Rear Admiral Cristobal Gonzalez-Aller of Spanish Navy (right) July 29, 2016 © EU NAVFOR

“It has been a privilege to serve with Operation Atalanta and to meet the Sailors, Marines and Airmen who are working tirelessly on a daily basis to ensure that the humanitarian aid destined for the Somali people, as well as Vessels carrying goods to and from Europe, arrive at their destination safely.  I wish Rear Admiral Gonzalez-Aller and the rest of the Operation Atalanta team the very best of luck – stay steady!”   Expressed  Rear Admiral Wikstrom. July 29, 2016 © EU NAVFOR

Royal Netherlands Navy in Operation Atalanta-2

On August 6,  in the Naval ceremony  Royal Netherlands Navy assumed the Force Command of the Operation Atalanta from German Navy.

Rear Admiral Kaack, Rear Admiral González-Aller Lacalle, and Commodore Luyckx in the change of Force Command ceremony. August 6, 2016 EU NAVFOR



Commodore Luyckx of Royal Netherlands Navy (right) Rear Admiral González-Aller Lacalle of Spanish Navy (centre)  and Rear Admiral Kaack of German Navy (left) during the handover Command ceremony. August 6, 2016 © EU NAVFOR


The Royal Dutch Air Defence and Command  Frigate HNLMS Tromp  equipped with NH90 Chopper, will be for the next approximately four months the Flagship of Operation Atalanta,  the HQ of Force Commander Commodore René Luyckx, and his crew added with 10 other European State’s personnel and several EU partners in the Counter-Piracy Operation.

“The EU Naval Force, in co-operation with counter-piracy partners, has been highly effective in reducing pirate attacks. At the height of Somali piracy in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 Ships were being held by Pirates.  As of May 2015, no Merchant Vessels are being held in captivity.”  Elaborated the new Force Commander  Commodore René Luyckx of Royal Netherlands Navy.  Djibouti,  August 6 2016 © EU NAVFOR

This is the second time that Commodore René Luyckx  leads the Operation.  In May 2015 he was the Commanding Officer of  HNLMS Johan de Witt  in Operation Atalanta. 

Royal Dutch Marines on the Frigate Bayern June 2015 EU NAVFOR



His current Flagship  HNLMS Tromp of  Royal Netherlands Navy,  does also conjure up…..  a well-known tale of a Ship, and the electrifying hostage Rescuing Operation…….. by the Dutch Marines …. in the chapters of the European Union’s Naval Operation Atalanta.  


It was in the early hours of April 5  2010,  in the abruptly hijacking situation the MV Taipan (German owned container Ship) and its crew were taken hostage by a group of Armed Pirates.   The unclassified correspondence of  European Naval Force indicates that as the negotiation attempts with the Pirates did not bring a positive result,  the HNLMS Tromp launched an offensive course, by  authorizing its Dutch Marines to a swift Disrupt….., Boarding, …. and Rescue Operation….. which  ended in …..seizing  the Vessel ……and rescuing the hostages unharmed.  The Armed-Pirates were rounded up and captured…….later transported to the Netherlands for the trial.

News from EU NAVAL Force in Operation Atalanta
News from Royal Netherlands Navy 

The second image Dutch Marine Boarding Team during its previous six months Mission in the OP. Atalanta. June 2015 courtesy of EU NAVFOR.                                                                                                                              Source: EU NAVFOR

Addition: Royal Netherlands Navy in Operation Atalanta-1

By Editor in Chief (Copy-Righted Material)

The Bundeswehr in Operation Atalanta-10

The German Navy under Command of Rear Admiral Jan Kaack, with its  Flagship FGS Bayern has completed its Mission in the Counter-Piracy ‘Operation Atalanta’  in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.  From this week the Operation will be under the Command of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Rear-Admiral-Kaack-and-Commodore-Luyckx-onboard- of the FGS-Bayern-OP. Atalanta August 2016Rear Admiral Kaack and Commodore Luyckx (Royal Netherlands Navy) on board of FGS Bayern. August 6, 2016 © EU NAVFOR

During this Operational period of five months at Sea, among many other striking success of Force Commander Rear Admiral Jan Kaack, it can yet further be highlighted the Rear Admiral’s achievements:

• To form a closer cooperation between the EU NAVFOR and the national local authority in Somalia and the Region
•  To expand the Collective Partnership of European Naval Forces in the Operation and strengthen their Interoperability and Joint Efforts.       
•  To increase the cooperation between the EU NAVFOR and other International Partners
• To enlighten further and  increase the awareness of the EU Diplomatic Missions in the Region about the entire aspects of Operation Atalanta, its past success and the importance of its continuation  

Special:  Interview with the Force Commander in Operation ATALANTA

Additional: Operation Atalanta Sailors Remember the Fallen of WW1 During Port Visit to Dar Es Salaam

News from EU NAVAL Force in Operation Atalanta
News from German NAVY                                     News from Royal Netherlands Navy 
News from UK Royal NAVY

The United Kingdom’s leadership in Joint Expeditionary Force

EUCOM, UKIn  November 2015,  the United Kingdom reaffirmed  its leading role in the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) with the participation of 10,000 Troops from:  Denmark,  Estonia, Latvia,  Lithuania, the Netherlands and  Norway.

The Joint Expeditionary Force is combined of a highly trained Military personnel to be Deployed at a short notice, for countering a wide range of International crisis, with Combat Power, Conventional Deterrence and Humanitarian Assistance. Described by the UK MoD.

We are Stronger together and have agreed to attach Forces to the JEF when the time is right. The Force will allow the UK and our Allies to share knowledge, skills and resources, and will mean we can deliver a rapidly deployable, flexible and integrated joint Force.”  explained  Defence Secretary Michael Fallon November 30, 2015 © UK M0D

On July 29 of this year,  the UK-led High-Readiness Force commenced its inaugural high level training with the ‘Exercise Joint Venture’ in the Cornwall/UK.   The Exercise aimed to enhance the Joint Expeditionary Force with a new Training and sharing of Land, Air and Sea skills and capabilities with the Armed-Forces from Denmark,  Estonia,  Latvia,  Lithuania,  the Netherlands,  Norway and the United Kingdom. 

Exercise Joint Venture has been a significant milestone in the delivery of the Joint Expeditionary Force. The Standing Joint Force Headquarters is proving new ground, in the way the UK and Coalition Partners are able to deliver real and concerted Military effect in a complex and ever-changing World.  I look forward to the Standing Joint Force Headquarters playing its part in bringing the Joint Expeditionary Force to full operating capability by the end of 2018.”  Stated  Major General Stuart Skeates. July 29, 2016 © UK M0D

UK Flag courtesy of U.S European Command

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