NATO decision-makers get first-hand look at naval counter-terrorism
On 20 May, senior Alliance decision-makers visited Crete, Greece, to observe a demonstration of NATO’s naval counter-terrorist and Response Force capabilities.
The North Atlantic Council and the Military Committee visited the Standing NATO Response Force Maritime Group, including ships taking part in Active Endeavour, NATO’s maritime counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean.
Under the operation, launched in 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks against the United States, NATO ships monitor shipping and patrol the Mediterranean to detect, deter and protect against terrorist threats.
The NATO Response Force combines elite land, air and sea units into a single force that can be deployed anywhere in the world in five days and sustain itself for up to a month on a wide range of missions.
During the “Sea day”, NATO Ambassadors, Military Committee members, the Secretary General and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe went on board the ships taking part in Active Endeavour. They witnessed a demonstration of a compliant boarding, during which NATO vessels stop and board suspect vessels.
To date NATO ships have monitored more than 65,000 vessels and boarded some 90 suspect ships.
In addition, over 488 ships have taken advantage of NATO escorts through the narrow Straits of Gibraltar. The area is considered particularly vulnerable because the Straits are extremely narrow and some 3,000 commercial shipments pass through them every day.
Speaking at a press conference on board one of the ships, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that Active Endeavour is a concrete demonstration of NATO’s engagement in the fight against terrorism.
The Council is the Alliance’s principal decision-making body, made up of the Permanent Representatives of the 26 NATO countries and chaired by the Secretary General.
NATO’s Military Committee assists and gives military advice to NATO's civilian decision-making bodies and provides guidance to NATO's two strategic commands.