#FieldVision | The immediate priority is to consolidate peace and stability in Libya. IRINI’s work is indispensable for that

‘IRINI is one essential component of an all-encompassing process to support the EU’s and the international community’s ongoing diplomatic efforts to seek a permanent political solution to the Libyan crisis’ explains Commander Cathal Power, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations of EUNAV FOR MED IRINI.

Do you want to know what it looks like to work in a EU military or civilian mission? Field Vision brings a fresh and personal approach from the EU’s civilian and military missions and operations, sharing first-hand experiences from around the world and showing how European women and men contribute to global security, peace and stability. Stay tuned for more stories in the coming weeks.

'I arrived in the Operation in late November 2021, taking over my duties as the Deputy of the Operations Branch (DACOS Operations CJ3) from an Irish colleague, Commander Darragh Kirwan. What was readily apparent from the outset was the high operational tempo in the Operational Headquarters (OHQ). The Operations Branch (CJ3) and the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) are the heart of the OHQ, ensuring that the Operation Commander is kept informed of all developments in the Operation Area.

Operation IRINI is one of the EU’s two maritime military operations. The core task of the Operation is the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. IRINI is the only international actor doing so. The Operation is part of the European integrated approach to Libya involving political, military, economic and humanitarian efforts to bring stability and security to the country. What is very clear to the Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto, and to all members of the Operation is that Operation IRINI is one essential component of an all-encompassing process to support the EU’s and the international community’s ongoing diplomatic efforts to seek a permanent political solution to the Libyan crisis.

To implement its core task, IRINI patrols the Mediterranean Sea, within the limits of its Area of Operations, hails vessels passing through to gather information, performs friendly approaches, and carries out boarding and inspections of suspect vessels. The Operation also produces reports that are shared with the UN Panel of Experts on Libya to support their work and that of the UN Sanctions Committee. Since its launch almost two years ago, the Operation has conducted more than 6,000 hailings, 246 friendly approaches and 22 inspections of suspect vessels, and has shared more than 30 reports with the Panel of Experts.

As the ongoing geopolitical crises around Europe continue to place strains on the available naval and air assets of contributing nations, the planned force flow of Members States’ assets is vital to ensure the delivery of operational outputs and to implement the UN sanctioned arms embargo. As such, Operation IRINI is an intelligence-driven operation, utilising remote sensing (satellite) information, maritime air patrols and information from Member States and EU agencies, which facilitates an effective, expeditious and efficient use of the air and surface assets. Since the beginning of its mandate, IRINI has benefited greatly from cooperation with many EU Agencies, such as EU SATCEN, Frontex and the European Maritime Safety Agency, sharing maritime information about the Central Mediterranean.

The demanding battle rhythm of the Operational Headquarter commences with a daily update to the Operation Commander, led and coordinated by myself, DACOS CJ3, and CJ3 members. The ongoing pandemic has necessitated that all briefings occur by secure video teleconferencing. This briefing includes all Branches and is vital for the maintenance of Maritime Situational Awareness at the operational level. The brief entails a daily review of all current and future operations and facilitates a whole of OHQ approach to the planning, implementation and review processes for operations, facilitating a review of actions and their potential effects at the operational and strategic level.


Group of men checking some information in a office with computers.

The Operations Branch (CJ3) acts as the node through which information and official operational taskings and requests pass between the mission, external agencies and most vitally, to the Force Headquarters at sea. Combined with such daily operational briefings, the Operations Branch are central to the composition of a range of reports to the military and political decision-makers in headquarters, ranging from daily operational summaries, weekly assessment reports to the strategic level documents such as the Six-Monthly Reports and Military Strategic Campaign Assessments. Such reports are vital to provide EU policy-makers at the strategic and political level with a detailed insight and assessment of the effectiveness of the Mission.

I am very proud to be a part of Ireland’s contribution to Operation IRINI and work for international security and peace in the Central Mediterranean. I feel that this mission is doing its utmost to provide for a better future for the people of Libya.'

Commander Cathal Power
Deputy Chief of Staff Operations of EUNAV FOR MED IRINI

EUNAVFOR MED IRINI in a nutshell

One of the outcomes of the Berlin Conference was the necessity to effectively implement the UN arms embargo on Libya. In order to deliver this outcome, the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union decided to launch a new CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) Operation in the Mediterranean focused on the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on the arms embargo on Libya, while closing Operation SOPHIA. The Operation, named EUNAVFOR MED IRINI (Greek for "peace") was thus launched on 31 March 2020 and extended to 31 March 2023. Its core task is the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In particular, the mission is mandated to carry out inspections of vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected to be carrying arms or related material to and from Libya in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution  2292 (2016) in addition to monitoring violations perpetrated via aerial and land routes. As secondary tasks, EUNAVFOR MED IRINI also:

  • monitors and gathers information on illicit exports from Libya of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products;
  • contributes to the capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy; 
  • contributes to the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks through information gathering and patrolling by planes.


Cdr (OF-4) Cathal Power is Deputy of the Operations Branch in EUNAV FOR MED Operation Irini since November 2021.