SatCen Supports EUNAVFOR MED Operation IRINI with Geospatial Intelligence Services
Full Spectrum of Centre’s GEOINT Support for Operation IRINI also during COVID-19 crisis
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.
Since many years, SatCen has observed the situation in this crisis region, for both the previous EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX as well as the wider EU security concerns. From the launch of operations, the Centre has been supporting IRINI with its wide spectrum of geospatial intelligence services.
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.'
Immediately on receiving the respective task from the new operation, SatCen used its secure communication links with the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the responsible Operation Headquarters (OHQ) in Rome to prioritize the requirements for geospatial intelligence support covering the various areas of interest.
The support for IRINI is by now fully operational. It is a top priority and special responsibility for the Centre to contribute to this high-profile EU engagement in one of today’s most contested crisis areas. The SatCen’s geospatial analysis helps to augment the operation’s surveillance capabilities, with the Centre’s services working as “extended eyes” for the military activities.
As the Operation Commander states: “The EU Satellite Centre is an essential element of Operation IRINI as it provides us with the necessary satellite imagery and analysis. How crucial is the cooperation between EUNAVFOR MED and SatCen has been already proved by the detection of illegal activities in some ports and airports in Libya in coordination with the other assets assigned to IRINI. Moreover, the resources made available by SatCen are essential for the impartiality of the Operation since they facilitate the monitoring of aerial and land routes in the wider context of the arms embargo.”
To date, SatCen already provided numerous products, 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 - Interview with Operation Commander (IT SKY TG24): https://youtu.be/rUHHckRwk48
Video EUNAVFOR MED OPERATION IRINI: https://youtu.be/9JEsNzEMwLA