The Czech Republic’s support to EUNAVFOR Anti-Piracy Operation
European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) welcomes three military personnel from the Czech Republic: two officers, namely Lt Col Jozef Podoba (Senior National Representative) and Lt Col David Peter, and one NCO, WO Lubomir Volny.
The Czech Republic has been a member of NATO since 12th March 1999, and of the European Union since 2004. Since the end of January 2010, the Czech Republic has also been involved with the EUNAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA, a military operation with a mandate to protect vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia and to help deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. This operation – the European Union’s first naval operation- was established in December 2008 and was scheduled for an initial period of twelve months has now been extended by the council until Dec 2010. During this period up to 12 EU ships and a number Maritime Patrol Aircraft will operate at any one time.
At the present time, eight EU member states are making a permanent operational contribution to the operation: Italy, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Luxemburg and Greece. Contributions from third countries such as Norway are participating as well. Also, a number of Cypriot, Irish, Finnish, Maltese and Sweden military personnel supplement the team at the Northwood Operation Headquarters, and are now joined by three military personnel from the Czech Republic.
WO Volny is the Assistant Watchkeeper in the Joint Operations Centre, monitoring all ships registered with the Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa) as they navigate the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin. Lt Col Peter is working as the Accounting Officer in the Finance Division and manages every payment made in relation to the EU budget for Operation Atalanta. Lt Col Podoba is the Analyst in the Intelligence Division.
Operation Atalanta is endorsed until Dec 2010 and it is understood that the Czech Republic will send up to three military personnel in six month rotations for that period of time. This was the first visit to England for WO Volny, unlike Lt Col Peter and Lt Col Podoba, who had visited on previous occasions. When asked what it was like to work with different members of EU, different military services and civilians in one building, Lt Col Podoba stated that ‘this is not a new experience, as we work in an international environment with counterparts in NATO HQs and EU missions’. Lt Col Peter was impressed with how well so many different nations work together as a cohesive and professional team despite the frequent rotations within members of the staff in this operation. WO Volny gave his compliments with regards to the new building for the Operational Headquarters, which EU NAVFOR moved into on 8th February 2010, and stated that it provides ‘great conditions for work and relaxation’.
Lt Col Podoba added the following statement:
‘This is the first Navy mission for the Czech Republic and we would like to maintain the reputation of the Czech soldier among the coalition partners in missions such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. We are ready to support the effort of the HQ in Operation Atalanta and be reliable and valuable team members in the HQ.’
Author: LT Yo Young, Royal Naval Reserves
European Union Naval Force Somalia - Operation Atalanta
Public Affairs Office