Six Belgian marines are on their way to the former French African colony of Djibouti to take part in Operation Atlanta in the Gulf of Eden. One of the marines will be the second-in-command of the mission for a certain time. The six Belgians boarded a French navy frigate bound for Djibouti at the end of July and are due to arrive on station today where they will join the other forces of the European Union's Atlanta mission in the Gulf of Eden. Belgian Defence Minister Pieter De Crem (Flemish Christian Democrat) tried earlier this year to convince the French to hand over command of the operation to Belgium but the French refused. This will be the first time that Belgian naval personnel will take part in Operation Atalanta. Last year the Belgian Navy frigate Louise-Marie was sent to the Gulf of Eden and earlier this year the Navy supply and logistics ship Godetia participated in the mission also.
Operation Atalanta is part of the multi-national coalition to guard against terrorism and piracy in the seas around the Horn of Africa, mostly originated in Somalia where Islamic terrorists have mostly taken control from the ineffective government. The operation has been underway since 2008 and includes forces from across the European Union as well as Montenegro, the Ukraine and Norway.