Operation Unified Protector: Faces of the mission

  • 08 Aug. 2011 -
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  • Last updated: 11 Aug. 2011 16:20

NATO’s ongoing mission in Libya has dominated international headlines for the past several months. However, one does not often see the faces behind Operation Unified Protector; the hundreds of men and women without whom NATO’s mission would not be possible. The following photos therefore showcase the efforts of NATO’s hardworking and courageous Allied Forces who, either by air or sea, regularly save countless lives of innocent civilians and protect them from pro-Ghaddafi forces in order to allow the Libyan people to decide their future.

This Belgian Air Force pilot is about to take off from Araxos Air Base in Greece aboard one of Belgium’s F-16 fighter jets. The Belgian Air Force is part of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, whose mission is to protect civilians from pro-Ghaddafi forces in Libya, using air power.

It is no easy task to feed the hundreds of British Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel supporting operations over Libya. One of the RAF’s support units, 3 Mobile Catering Squadron (3MCS) from RAF Wittering deployed 12 chefs with a fully equipped kitchen complete with a dining room, all the way from Cambridgeshire in England to a southern Italian air base, 2000 miles away. 3MCS are able to deliver traditional British favourites, freshly cooked and right where the airmen are working, as enjoyed by this member of the RAF.

Lieutenant Commander Jurgen Van Daele (right) Commanding Officer of the Belgian mine hunter, M923 NARCIS looks towards Misrata Harbour in Western Libya in response to a visual report by a member of the ship’s force protection sentry while contributing to Operation Unified Protector.

Three members of the Canadian Armed Forces are carefully performing maintenance procedures on precision guided munitions used to conduct air strikes against Regime forces.

Members of the French Air Force (Armée de l’air or AFA) prepare a Mirage fighter jet for operations over Libya as part of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

Under the supervision of commanding officer (centre), Commander Craig Skjerpen, the Canadian frigate HMCS Charlottetown takes on fuel from an Italian Navy replenishment vessel off the coast of Misrata, Libya. Navigation Officer Lt(N) Nadia Shields (front) ensures that the frigate’s course and speed are checked.

Norwegian Press and Information officer Sigurd Tonning-Olsen stands in front of one of his country’s F-16 fighter planes at Souda Air Base at Crete during Operation Unified Protector.
(Forsvarets Mediesenter / Torbjørn Kjosvold)  

Crew members from the Spanish frigate Mendez Nunez board a vessel for inspection as part of NATO's Operation Unified Protector, which includes the enforcement of the arms embargo under UNSCR 1973.

Last testing before Danish F-16 take off from Sigonella military airbase, Italy. Danish F-16 participate in NATO's Operation Unified Protector over Libya (Photo: Kurt Hansen - Royal Danish Air Force)