Austrian Jagdkommandos, an Austrian Armed Forces’ Special Operations group, will embark German Navy tender ‘Main’ on March 2 to support EU’s counter-smuggling mission in the Mediterranean Sea.
An official send-off ceremony for the Jagdkommandos took place in the Roßauer barracks in Vienna on February 28.
The 15 soldiers that constitute the boarding team will help during the boarding and eventual seizing of smuggling vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.
Austria is one of 20 EU member states that have provided soldiers and personnel for this mission. The country has further six personnel stationed in the maritime headquarters in Rome, Italy, and two personnel embarked aboard Italian Navy aircraft carrier ITS Garibaldi.
Operation Sophia has been running since October 2015 and has recently been extended to last until December 2017. The mission is an EU undertaking aimed at curbing organized people smuggling. EU assets use air and satellite imagery to collect information on smugglers and patrol the Libyan coast to uncover criminal networks.
The efforts have so far led to the arrest of 106 smugglers while 396 boats were destroyed. Operation Sophia also helped other authorities, like the Italian Coast Guard, destroy further 211 boats.