Standing NATO Maritime Group 2
Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) standing maritime immediate reaction force. Prior to 1 January 2005 it was known as Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED or more colloquially as SNFM).
SNMG2 is a multinational, integrated maritime force – made up of vessels from various nations that are part of NATO, training and operating together as a single team – that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and operational missions. Usually the force is employed in the Mediterranean Sea but, as required, will be available anywhere NATO requires it to deploy.
SNMG2 carries out a continuous programme of operational training and conducts port visits to know and get known in many ports in and out of the Mediterranean, in NATO and non-NATO nations. These include ports in nations that are part of the Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative programmes.
Composition of the force varies as naval units are provided by NATO contributing nations on a rotational basis while command of the force rotates among them. Nations normally contributing to the group include Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. Other NATO nations have also occasionally contributed.
The composition of SNMG2 varies depending on the current contributions of nations, but generally consists of 4–8 frigate or destroyer type ships and one oiler or support ship. Command of the force rotates in one year intervals among participating countries. The commander of SNMG2 until 2013 reported to the Commander of Allied Maritime Command Naples, one of the two component commands of Allied Joint Force Command Naples.
NATO has two Standing Maritime Groups (SNMGs) and two Standing Maritime Mine Countermeasure Groups (SNMCMGs). The groups provide the alliance with a continuous maritime capability for NATO Response Force (NRF) operations, non-NRF operations and other activities in peacetime and periods of crisis and conflict. The primary role of these Forces, as standing elements of their respective NRF, is the full integration and participation in the NRF, providing maritime support to operations.
Other missions that are applicable to both SNMGs and SNMCMGs include establishing alliance presence, demonstrating solidarity, conducting routine diplomatic visits to member, partner and non NATO countries, supporting transformation and providing a variety of maritime military capabilities to ongoing missions.
On 11 July 1992 the force was directed to deploy to the Ionian Sea to be prepared for possible future operations, with reference to a NATO ministerial decision to assist the monitoring of compliance with United Nations (UN) resolutions 713 and 757. The North Atlantic Council decided on 15 July 1992 that NATO monitoring operations were to commence at 0800 local time on 16 July, when the first units of STANAVFORMED entered the Adriatic Sea to begin participating in NATO's Operation Maritime Monitor. The Force was temporarily relieved by STANAVFORLANT in this operation on 9–26 September, to conduct the change of command, complete ship turnovers and conduct Force work-ups. From 22 November 1992 to 15 June 1993 the force participated in Operation Maritime Guard which was the NATO contribution towards the enforcement of the UN embargoes on the Former Yugoslavia. The operation was conducted in coordination with the Western European Union (WEU) Operation Sharp Fence.
On 15 June 1993 these two operations were merged in the combined NATO/WEU Operation Sharp Guard. Part of the Force visited the port of Haifa, from 16–22 November 1993. STANAVFORMED continued to conduct embargo enforcement operations until 18 June 1996, when the UN arms embargo against the Former Yugoslavia was terminated. Since then, STANAVFORMED remained ready to resume Sharp Guard operations at short notice, should UN sanctions be re-established, until all embargoes were terminated on 1 October 1996. From 22 November 1992 – when enforcement operations began – to 18 June 1996, NATO and WEU forces challenged over 70,000 vessels. Of these, over 7,000 were boarded and inspected or diverted to a port for inspection. After the UN authorized enforcement actions in April 1993 no ship was able to break the maritime embargoes.
STANAVFORMED deployed to the Adriatic Sea on 14 October 1998 as part of NATO's preparations for possible operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Following the signature of agreements under which the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia committed to comply with requests from the international community, the Force was eventually authorised to resume normal duties. Because of the renewed violence in Kosovo, the North Atlantic Council decided, on 20 January 1999, to take measures to increase the capability of NATO forces to conduct air operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Among these measures, STANAVFORMED was ordered to deploy to the Adriatic Sea to increase alliance presence in the area and provide evidence of NATO's resolve. With termination of the air operation Allied Force, on 20 June 1999, STANAVFORMED returned to its normal peacetime duties, whilst remaining ready to support continuing NATO's operations.
Following the North Atlantic Council's decision on implementation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty as a consequence of the 11 September 2001 attacks against the United States, STANAVFORMED was withdrawn from exercise Destined Glory 2001 on 6 October 2001 and deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean to conduct Operation Active Endeavour, NATO's maritime contribution to the fight against terrorism. Since then STANAVFORMED and later SNMG2 participated in and supported Operation Active Endeavour whenever required.
At request of the United Nations SNMG2 was deployed by NATO off Somali coast to conduct Operation Allied Provider, to deter, defend and protect World Food Program (WFP) vessels against the threat of piracy and armed robbery, thereby allowing WFP to fulfill its mission of providing humanitarian aid.
SNMG2 is a component of the NATO Response Force (NRF).
Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED) was activated on 30 April 1992, at Naples, Italy. STANAVFORMED was the successor to the NATO Naval On-Call Force Mediterranean (NAVOCFORMED) – which had been periodically activated for more than 20 years.
During the 1990s, STANAVFORMED was heavily involved in Operation Sharp Guard, the maritime embargo in the Adriatic Sea.
On 6 October 2001, STANAVFORMED deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea in support of Operation Active Endeavour, NATO's maritime contribution to the fight against terrorism. Although Task Force Endeavour is now made up of dedicated assets, the two SNMGs routinely "surge" to provide additional assets to the operation. When not directly supporting operations, the force conducts a rigorous plan of exercises, maneuvers and port visits.
The Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) assumed the current denomination on 1 January 2005, when new names and missions were allocated to NATO's maritime Immediate Reaction Forces, to make them part of the NRF. When not required for specific NRF tasks, the NATO Standing Naval Groups will be carrying out the same activities as they have been doing under their old names.
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