In a note, Defense Minister Guido Crosetto declared that “the European Union – yesterday – asked Italy to provide the Force Commander of the Aspides Operation in the Red Sea (the Admiral Officer who exercises command on board of the naval assets participating in the operation)”. “The importance and urgency of Operation Aspides, which will contribute to guaranteeing the free navigation and safety of commercial traffic in the Red Sea, have led the Italian Defense to immediately ensure its support. This is a further recognition of the commitment of the Government and Defense and of the competence and professionalism of the Navy”, added the minister.
Tajani: It doesn’t matter who commands Aspides but the effects
Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, speaking on the topic from Brussels before his colleague’s announcement, said: “For the headquarters of the Aspides mission command we will see, Greece or France does not matter, and then there could be a rotation, the important thing is not It’s who will be in command but who will do the mission.”
Adm. De Carolis: we carry out ‘hot’ exercises
“The latest NATO exercise involved sixteen nations, I want to underline that collaboration at Alliance level and at international level is very important, we are also training in the so-called ‘hot’ exercises with cannons firing, we launch missiles, in relation to the evolution of the current scenario”, said Admiral Aurelio De Carolis, commander of the naval team of the Italian Navy coming directly from the Red Sea, during his speech at the second edition of the “Shipping, Transport & Intermodal Forum” organized in Rapallo, with a focus on the situation in the Red Sea. “The message I want to communicate is that the naval team of the Italian Navy is not only made up of ships: we defend the maritime interests of the nation in all dimensions, from submarines to naval aviation, including all modern F35s, the component of the San Marco Marine Brigade for land operations, but also to arm the boarding teams of our ships in maritime security operations. We normally have ten of them deployed on ships operating in different areas of the world in that area known as the wider Mediterranean”.
Two days ago, in his briefing to the Defense commissions of the Chamber and Senate, Minister Crosetto explained some details of the mission, indicating that Italy will provide a ship for 12 months and also ‘spy’ aerial assets for the European Aspides mission in the Red Sea , which will have its headquarters in Larissa, Greece. The minister recalled the danger of the Houthis, who in the last two months have launched over 30 attacks against merchant ships in transit and whose military capabilities “are worth 10 times Hamas”. Europe is preparing to launch Aspides but, Crosetto said, ” we hope for the participation of moderate Arab countries who wish to join this collective security effort and also of India”. The European military ships, he explained, will deter and protect maritime traffic “while maintaining close coordination with the other EU mission Atalanta , with which Aspides will share part of the area of operations, albeit with a distinction in tasks, and with Prosperity Guardian”, the Anglo-American mission which, unlike the EU one, bombs the Houthi positions on Yemeni soil. “For now – informed the holder of Defense – the European assets will include a minimum of three naval units, intelligence and logistical support, airborne Early Warning capability, cyber protection, satellite support and strategic communication in support of the so-called Information Warfare”.
The other hypotheses
We need to ensure adequate coverage for the ships from above, understand what is moving on land and at sea, and intercept rebel communications. Among the hypotheses on the table is the sending of G550 Caew aircraft from the 14th Wing of the Air Force, already used in missions on the Eastern flank of NATO. These are real flying radars, equipped with a multi-sensor system with aerial surveillance, command, control and communications functions. The deployment of drones, such as Predator, with territory reconnaissance and control tasks is also possible. The stakes are high, underlined Crosetto, who spoke of a “global hybrid threat”, recalling that the missiles in the Red Sea “also threaten our economic stability, with the risk of marginalizing the ports”.