Operation Commander EUNAVFOR MED IRINI visits SatCen
On 1 July 2020, Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini (Italian Navy), Commander of Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, visited SatCen with a delegation from his Operation Headquarters for a detailed briefing on the Centre’s support to this EU naval operation.
The SatCen Director, Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, welcomed the Operation Commander and his team to the SatCen premises and provided an overview of the Centre and its mission. The SatCen Deputy Director, Giuseppe D’Amico, and expert staff presented in detail the Centre’s wide spectrum of operational geospatial analysis services, as well as other space-related capabilities with a specific focus on the support to Operation IRINI.
The visitors were also introduced to the classified part of SatCen’s Operations Division and had an opportunity to talk directly with the Centre’s image analysts.
The Commander provided a briefing on the EUNAVFOR MED mission and current challenges facing the operation.
The meeting concluded with a round table discussion with the SatCen Management, in which various options to further intensify the Centre’s support to Operation IRINI and to strengthen mutual collaboration were explored, including means to facilitate further improvements in classified communication and coordination of sensitive tasking.
Following the visit, the SatCen Director raised the importance of this high level visit for the Centre to demonstrate its full support capability to EUNAVFOR MED. He stated that it was very useful for the SatCen analysts to fully understand the wide scope of IRINI’s intelligence requirements in order to provide even better tailored services to the operation.
On 31 March 2020, the EU launched Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI (Greek for “peace”) with the mandate to implement the UN arms embargo to Libya, monitor and gather information on crude oil smuggling, support the capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy, as well as to contribute to the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks.
With the same decision, the EU Council appointed Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini as Operation Commander. The Rear Admiral had already served as Commander for the previous Operation SOPHIA and has extensive experience from active duty as well as political assignments in various national Italian, EU, NATO and UN functions as well as from numerous high-level international training opportunities.
From the launch of operations, SatCen has been supporting IRINI with its wide spectrum of geospatial intelligence services. The Centre could rely on its extensive range of expertise in this area, having observed the situation in this crisis region since many years, for both the previous EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX, as well as in the interest of wider EU security concerns.
The Council specifically mandated the operation to be “using aerial, satellite and maritime assets” for executing its mandate. The High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell had already anticipated the Centre’s upcoming support responsibility during his opening speech at the 12th European Space Conference on 21 January 2020: 'On security-related matters, the European Union Satellite Centre in Torrejón, Madrid, has helped to deliver key geostrategic intelligence analysis to the European Union and Member States, contributing to monitoring the crisis of conflict areas and supporting the EU advisory operations. When we are planning what to do in Libya, it immediately comes to our mind that we have a powerful tool observing what is happening there and guiding the operations on the ground.'
To date, SatCen has provided numerous products and services, demonstrating that the Centre’s intelligence analysis is of key relevance for the EU’s latest military operation, even under the current pandemic constraints.
EUNAVFOR MED Operation IRINI: https://www.operationirini.eu/
Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini, Commander EU NAVFOR MED Operation IRINI:
Video EUNAVFOR MED OPERATION IRINI:
Interview with Operation Commander EUNAVFOR MED (IT SKY TG24):