Operation Unified Protector Launched--"We have shut the front door"

TRANSCRIPT of Mar. 24, 2011 Press Conference, Naples, Italy
Vice Adm. Rinaldo Veri, Commander of the Allied Maritime Command Naples

"Two weeks ago NATO's military leadership established round the clock airborne surveillance and ordered the re-direction of NATO's assets to the central Mediterranean.

You will be aware that on March 22nd the NATO Secretary General announced NATO's agreement to launch an operation enforcing the arms embargo against Libya, now called OPERATION UNIFIED PROTECTOR.

This operation will assist in reducing the flow of arms, related material and mercenaries to and from the coastal waters off Libya.

Admiral Rinaldo Veri, Commander Allied Maritime Command Naples, gives an
outline of the Maritime embargo operations during a press conference held at
Allied Joint Force Command Naples, 24 Mar 11. 

Maritime assets supported by NATO aircraft working to reduce the flow of war materials will support the United Nations Security Council Resolutions to end attacks on the civilian population in Libya.

Commander Joint Force Command Naples, Admiral Locklear, has tasked me to carry out Operation Unified Protector. My force is in a build up phase and will soon start conducting operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries.

My Task Groups are moving into position and continue to grow. They are composed of surface vessels, submarines and maritime patrol aircraft. My Task Group Commanders are empowered to enforce the embargo robustly all the way up to opposed boardings - a situation which we clearly hope will not be necessary.

We will ensure the free flow of legitimate shipping which the people of Libya need. To achieve this we are working closely with the International Maritime Organisation to share information and ensure that ships with legal cargoes are able to carry out their legitimate business.

As the name suggests this will not be an operation which we will carry out alone. It will be done in close coordination with commercial shipping and regional organisations. NATO has also said it will welcome NATO partners to this common endeavour.

        Members of various press agencies attending Vice Adm. Veri's Press
        Conference announcing NATO's agreement to launch Operation Unified
        Protector, Joint Force Command Naples, Mar 24.

My Task Force is in evolution but its presence is already established. We will build up to full enforcement of the embargo. I also remind you that Maritime Command Naples has run Operation Active Endeavour – is still running Operation Active Endeavour -in the Mediterranean since 2001 and our Maritime Situational Awareness of the area is already highly developed and the networking tools that will be used to carry out this operation are already tried and tested. I am now happy to take your questions.”