16 September 2015

Unique military collaboration between Sweden and the Netherlands against piracy

In the beginning of 2015, the Netherlands and Sweden provided a joint contribution to the EU’s counter-piracy military mission EUNAVFOR operation Atalanta.

Kristina Zetterlund and David Harriman, analysts at FOI, describe and analyse the collaboration in the new reportBilateral Partnership on an Even Keel – The Integration of Swedish and Dutch Forces in EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta, 2015.

“This cooperation, especially having a tactical headquarters led by one nation – in this case Sweden – and the flagship led by another – in this case the Netherlands – was quite unique”, says David Harriman, adding that generally speaking the partnership was considered to have been successful.

During their three-month deployment to the area of operation, Swedish troops and enablers – including two Combat Boat 90 assault craft and two AW109 helicopters – were stationed on board the Dutch warship HNLMS Johan de Witt, which also hosted the Force Headquarters (FHQ) led by a Swedish Admiral.

“This experience can offer some valuable lessons for similar collaborations in the future”, says Kristina Zetterlund, noting that such lessons are of particular relevance in light of the broad interest among countries to share costs and achieve synergies in the defence sector, as exemplified in initiatives such as the pooling and sharing concept.

Among the issues addressed in the new report are national regulations and procedures, command and control structures, preparatory training and exercises, the chosen level of integration and personal mindsets.