ABOUT EMASoH/ AGENOR
EMASoH / AGENOR
In 2019 insecurity and instability were growing in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz through multiple maritime and non-maritime incidents. This situation was affecting the freedom of navigation and the security of European and non-European vessels and their crews in the area. Trade and energy supplies were also jeopardized, potentially leading to worldwide economic consequences. In this context, European countries decided to act concretely, aiming to ensure a safe navigation environment in the area and to lower the current tensions by promoting de-escalation mechanisms.
The European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz aims to concretely provide enhanced surveillance capabilities in the area in order to establish maritime situational awareness. Operation AGENOR is the military track of EMASoH and employs surface vessels and air assets provided by willing nations. Those assets, together with diplomatic efforts, reinforce common maritime security. The operation emphasizes European unity, focused on de-escalation, to ensure safe transit in the area. EMASoH intends to defuse tensions and to contribute to a safe navigation environment. It is meant to restore confidence and security, in order to reassure commercial shipping operators.
The mission operates in full accordance with the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as other relevant international conventions and customary law.
The AGENOR Force Head Quarters (FHQ) is located at Abu Dhabi French Naval Base. The partnership with the United Arab Emirates allows EMASoH to be at the frontline and to accurately monitor the overall security situation, to the benefit of regional stability. At the operational level, Operation AGENOR is led by a French Operation Commander with his Operational Headquarter (OHQ). The current Operation Commander is Vice Admiral Emmanuel Slaars. At the tactical level, Task Force 474 is currently led by the Belgian Force Commander Rear Admiral Hans Huygens. The tactical command of Operation AGENOR has a light military footprint and mainly relies on a multinational force headquarter. The force commander rotates every four to six months between European contributing nations.
As of today, seven out of the nine participating nations are represented in the AGENOR staff: Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy and Norway. These nations, together with Germany and Portugal supporting the diplomatic track, contribute to ensure the freedom of navigation in the Gulf region, Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman based on principles of dialogue and de-escalation.
Area of Operation
AGENOR operates in a Joint Operation Area (JOA) covering the entire Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and a part of the Arabian Sea.
The EMASoH diplomatic track is led by a Senior Civilian Representative (SCR), currently being the Danish Ambassador Jakob Brix Tange. The SCR was appointed by the Political Contact Group (PCG) and works in close coordination with the EMASoH-countries authorities. The diplomatic track aims to identify ways to de-escalate tensions and to promote confidence building in the maritime domain, based on broad regional dialogue on maritime security.
JAKOB BRIX TANGE
His Excellency Jakob Brix Tange is currently holding the position of Danish Special Representative for Maritime Security, including Senior Civilian Representative for the European Maritime Awareness in The Strait of Hormuz.
Previously he worked as Senior Trade Policy Analyst with the OECD. He mainly spent his career within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark where his most recent posting was as Danish Ambassador for Trade Policy within the Danish Full Member of EU Trade Policy Committee. Furthermore, he was posted to the United Kingdom and Nicaragua. He held the position of the Director of Centre for Terror Analysis within the Danish Security and Intelligence Service andmbassador to Afghanistan. Previously he served as Private Secretary for the Danish Foreign Minister. He holds a Master of Political Science from the University of Copenhagen, 1992.
History of Senior Civilian Representatives:
17th of February 2020 – 16th of August 2020
Dutch Ambassador Jeanette Seppen
17th of August 2020 – 31st of August 2021
Danish Ambassador Julie Elisabeth Pruzan-Jorgensen
1st of September 2021 – present
Danish Ambassador Jacob Brix-Tange
At the operational level, Operation AGENOR is led by a French Operation Commander with his Operational Headquarter (OHQ). The current Operation Commander is Rear Admiral Emmanuel Slaars.
Graduate of the engineering university Arts & Metiers, Emmanuel Slaars joined the Navy in 1993. Out of the last 28 years, 18 have been dedicated solely to operations onboard warships, representing more than 8 full years at sea. After a first engagement in operation SHARP GUARD, he joined the Navy officers’ training school onboard helicopter carrier JEANNE D’ARC and then specialized in above water warfare. He then took part to many operations as KHOR ANGAR, TRIDENT and BERYX. In 2006, he also took part in allied operations against narcotics trafficking in the Caribbean Sea. After taking command of FNS Blaison, he was graduated of the Joint Staff College in 2008 and then joined the Strategic Affairs department of the Ministry of Defense.
Assigned onboard FNS Chevalier Paul as deputy CO, he joined afterwards FRMARFOR in August 2012 as Chief of Staff to CHARLES DE GAULLE Carrier Strike Group (CSG). As such, he was notably involved in the preparation and conduct of the CSG Operation BOIS BELLEAU deployed in the Arabian Gulf.
Promoted to Rear-Admiral in June 2021, he is designated Deputy Commander of the French Maritime Force (FRMARFOR) and joined Rota to act as Deputy of EUNAVFOR ATALANTA. In August 2022, he is appointed as Joint Commander of the French Forces deployed in the Indian Ocean, Joint Commander of the French Forces stationed in the United Arab Emirates, National Contingent Commander of Chammal’s operation and European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz Operation Commander (EMASOH OPCDR). He was promoted to Vice Admiral in April 2023.
Rear Admiral Hans Huygens, born in 1964 in Leuven (Belgium) has had a long and international military career. After his studies at the Royal Military Academy, he joined the Belgian Navy as a ‘ship driver’ and navigation & operations specialist. He totaled over 10 years on board of warships and participated to several international and national naval operations in the framework of UN, NATO and EU. In 2011 he was the Commanding Officer of the Belgian Navy’s frigate F931 Louise-Marie, with which he participated to the EU counter piracy Operation ATALANTA. During several years, Rear Admiral Huygens fulfilled Politico-Military functions such as Strategic Operations Planner within the EU Military Staff in Brussels, Head of the EU Section & Defence Policy Division for the Belgian Assistant Chief of Staff, Strategy and International Relations. He attended several courses on Crisis Management, Operations Planning and Maritime Warfare.
Since 2019 he has been working at the EU Military Staff, first by leading a strategic military team and planning EU Operations in West- and Sahel Africa, at sea and for Ukraine. Since this year he is the senior advisor on operations.
Rear Admiral Hans Huygens is an avid reader, a passionate sailing enthusiast, tanguero and single malt afficionado and enjoys bicycle rides as well as motorcycle trips.
History of Force Commanders
Rear Admiral Eric Janicot
20 January 2020 - 20 May 2020
Rear Admiral Carsten Fjord-Larsen
13 January 2021 - 17 April 2021
Captain (Navy) Nicolas du Chene
9 January 2022 - 1 March 2022
Rear Admiral Renaud Flamant
27 January 2023 - 9 June 2023
Captain (Navy) Ludivic Poitou
20 May 2020 - 1 September 2020
Rear Admiral Anders Friis
17 April 2021 - 15 July 2021
Rear Admiral Tanguy Botman
1 March 2022 - 6 July 2022
Rear Admiral Mauro Panebianco
9 June 2023 - 7 December 2023
Captain (Navy) Christophe Cluzel
1 September 2020 - 13 January 2021
Captain (Navy) Bruno de Vericourt
15 July 2021 - 9 January 2022
Rear Admiral Stefano Costantino
6 July 2022 - 27 January 2023
Rear Admiral Hans Huygens
7 December 2023 - Present
Assets of operation AGENOR
Naval and aerial assets are provided by contributing nations to assure the mission at sea. So far, over 25 ships have been involved in the mission with more than 3500 seamen and 1300 days at sea. As for the aerial assets, a French Military Patrol Aircraft and Italian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle assure a high eye over the Joint Operation Area (JOA) to maintain a clear situational awareness.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle MQ-9A
The MQ-9 Reaper is an advanced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Serving as an upgraded version of the MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper boasts a length of 36 feet and a wingspan of 66 feet. Equipped with retractable landing gear, it can take off and land on conventional runways. Remote piloted through a ground control station using satellite communication links, the Reaper can operate at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet and remain airborne for over 24 hours, covering a range of approximately 1,000 nautical miles.
Military Patrol Aircraft
The French Atlantique 2, also known as ATL2, is the primary aerial asset in Operation AGENOR contributing to the situational awareness. It is a long-range Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) with great manoeuvrability. The ATL2 is an aircraft dedicated to the air-sea domain, but can also be adapted for air-land missions. It carries different sensors that enables AGENOR to identify and register different ships and areas of interest.
AGENOR is a peacetime military operation in full accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and customary international law. The mission will concretely provide enhanced maritime situation awareness and surveillance through the deployment of additional maritime surveillance assets in the Gulf region and the Arabian Sea. Moreover, the military assets of AGENOR also adhere to their national laws.
The Strait of Hormuz is a “strait used for international navigation” under article 37 of UNCLOS, as it connects one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone. In accordance with customary international law and article 38 of UNCLOS, all ships benefit from the right of transit passage which shall be unimpeded. This navigation regime is more liberal than innocent passage because aircraft benefit from it and ships can cross international straits according “to their normal modes of continuous and expeditious transit” (article 39 UNCLOS). The coastal States cannot suspend the right of transit passage. However, ships crossing international straits must proceed without delay, refrain from any threat or use of force, and thus transit in a continuous way.