An Albatros for the Caribbean

France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have decided to launch a joint operation called Albatros, which, through the creation of a tripartite military structure, will respond to the need to intensify international coordination to supply aid to those in the Caribbean affected by the series of hurricanes which have caused considerable damage over a very widespread area.

Military coordination (photo credit: French Ministry of the Armed Forces)

This military structure, called the Multinational Caribbean Coordination Cell (MNCCC), will aim to establish and monitor in real time the logistical situation in the area in order to share, coordinate and optimise the use of ships and aircraft delivering emergency aid to affected islands. By working together as well as alongside close allies and partners, including the United States and Canada, “the military cell will improve the efficiency of humanitarian relief operations in the region,” a statement from the British Defence Ministry said.

Two coordination centres, staffed by military personnel from each nation, have been set up: a strategic cell located in Europe and an operative cell established on the Dutch Naval Base Parera in Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles. Its mission will be to consolidate and monitor military deployments, material, resources and air and sea military movements throughout the Caribbean. This cell, under the command of a French colonel but subordinate to the strategic cell, will be staffed by about 20 military personnel from the different armies of the three nations involved. A first operational capability is expected by September 24, full capacity is expected by September 27. The duration of the mission will be in the order of one to two months. The British contingent will provide specific expertise in tactical and operational air lifts.

The strategic cell, for its part, is in charge of ensuring unity with the aim of pooling the three nations’ military conveyancing to the islands. It will broadcast this Full Logistic Strategic Picture (FLSP) at the operational level.

Florence Parly, France’s minister of the Armed Forces, welcomed this example of European and military cooperation and thanked “our partners and allies for their commitment to this coordination project to the benefit of those who have suffered because of the passage of several hurricanes.

British Secretary of Defence Michael Fallon said: “The United Kingdom has led the way in providing expert disaster relief to those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Irma and now Maria moving a significant amount of troops, aid and equipment into the region. The creation of this coordination centre will see the UK work with our European allies as we share our expertise and assets to coordinate the delivery of emergency relief across the region.

A Royal Air Force C17 transported French aid to the island of Guadeloupe (photo credit: French Ministry of the Armed Forces)

The creation of the cell is the latest example of international coordination in response to disasters in the region which has so far included a British C17 carrying 30 tonnes of French equipment and vehicles to Guadeloupe to support French helicopter operations, and Dutch ship HNLMS Karel Doorman

HNLMS Karel Doorman

which stopped in Portsmouth (south of England) today en route to the Caribbean to embark more British aid. In addition, a UK specialist in humanitarian aid and disaster relief was amongst the first French military deployment to the region and all three nations have liaison officers embedded in each others’ military headquarters.