Extension for Mission SEA GUARDIAN

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Questions and answers about the foreign mission in the Mediterranean Sea Extension for Mission SEA GUARDIAN

Germany's armed forces will continue their contribution to the NATO maritime security operation SEA GUARDIAN in the Mediterranean. The mandate is to be extended until the end of March 2023. The Bundestag still has to agree to the resolution.

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Frigate Lübeck (F214) on manoeuvres at sea as part of Vision 2020 in the Skagerrak strait, 7 October 2020.

The frigate Lübeck is one of Germany’s ships involved in Operation SEA GUARDIAN.

Photo: Bundeswehr / Christian Galski

What are the aims of the operation in the Mediterranean?

Maritime transport and supply routes are critically important, so ensuring the security of the Mediterranean is a key concern for NATO and its members. Under NATO leadership, Operation SEA GUARDIAN is making a major contribution to this goal by helping to combat terrorism and arms smuggling in the Mediterranean. The operation will benefit the countries of the Mediterranean and those who use it.

Why has the maximum troop commitment been changed?

Around 210 members of the Federal Armed Forces are currently deployed as part of Operation SEA GUARDIAN

The changes mean a maximum of 550 troops can now be deployed, down from 650. The operation was reviewed while the current mandate was still ongoing and will remain subject to ongoing comprehensive assessments. Based on these reviews, the previous maximum troop commitment was assessed as being no longer necessary.

A similar decision has been taken concerning the operational area, which were also included in the review. A decision has been taken that the operational area will now cover the Mediterranean Sea but not coastal waters. Operations may still be undertaken in exceptional circumstances, but only with the approval of the Bundestag.

What is SEA GUARDIAN helping to achieve and how is the operation being carried out?

SEA GUARDIAN is making a major contribution to maritime security in the Mediterranean by monitoring developments and supporting maritime situational awareness. The mission has the authority to stop, check and search ships anywhere in the operational area if they are suspected of being connected to a terrorist organisation.

The presence of military forces means the operation also has a preventative and deterrent effect, which will help reduce the dangers of terrorism and arms smuggling.

The operation identified over 30,000 ships during 2021, of which three were stopped and checked for the purpose of maritime situational awareness.

What is the legal basis for the deployment of troops?

Germany's deployment of forces to the Mediterranean has its legal basis in decisions taken by the North Atlantic Council.

Efforts to combat terrorism and arms smuggling in the Mediterranean are also based on resolutions taken by the United Nations Security Council. These include agreements on combating unlawful activity that poses a risk to the safety of maritime activity.

The deployment of German soldiers follows the rules of a system of mutual security as set out in Article 24, paragraph 2 of the Basic Law. Under international law, German forces are also obliged to go to the aid of those in peril at sea.

For further information, see the website of the Federal Armed Forces: Mediterranean – Sea Guardian