On the 27th of May 1999, NATO activated a mine counter-measures Force to be deployed in the Mediterranean and operate in peacetime, in time of crisis or conflict. The new Force, initially called Standing Mine Counter measures Force of Mediterranean, was assigned to SACEUR. This significant new Force included eight mine hunters/weepers and one support vessel. The participating Nations were Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the U.K. and U.S.A.
On the 3rd of September 2001, MCMFORMED was renamed into Standing Mine Countermeasures Force South (MCMFORSOUTH) to be in line with the Force in the North region of NATO, MCMFOR NORTH. The change of name reflects that NAVAL Forces are not limited to a specific operations area.
MCMFORSOUTH, as well as all Rapid Reaction NATO Naval Forces, participates in exercises or conducts real operational missions. It may be deployed within the AFSOUTH AOR or outside Mediterranean, if required.
NATO Rapid Reaction Forces are present continuously and constitute a visible proof of solidarity and cohesion within the Alliance. The establishment of MCMFORSOUTH consists an important step in the context of the new Strategic NATO Concept that calls for an even more important role to be displayed by the joint multinational forces.
The Force Command rotates among the participating countries that contribute personnel to the multinational Staff.
In June 1999, MCMFOROSUTH MED and MCMFORNORTH undertook missions in the Adriatic Sea, in order to search and remove artillery missiles fired during the “ALLIED FORCE” operation. The allied Force consists of 11 mine-hunters/sweepers and one supporting vessel from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. It also includes a forward logistics site, activated in Ancona by the Italian Navy, with forward supply Units from the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium.
The operation, known as “ALLIED HARVEST”, started on the 9th of June 1999. Search activities started three days later and lasted 73 days. A total number of 93 artillery missiles were located and removed from nine areas, covering 1.041 square nautical miles.
The immobilization of destruction of these missiles was a difficult and very challenging work. The areas were thoroughly searched, with the use of the most advanced technology and systems, and the operation was safely carried out. After the completion of their mission, MCMFORNORTH and MCMFORMED returned to their regular activities.
Ever since, MCMFORSOUTH has participated in an important number of NATO and PfP exercises and has visited many ports, including ports of countries, which participate in Mediterranean Dialogue.
On the 1st of January 2005, the Force was renamed into “STANDING NΑΤΟ MINE COUNTERMEASURES GROUP-2”.
On the 11th of July 1992, SNMF was ordered to be deployed in Ionian Sea, in accordance with No. 713 and 757 U.N. resolutions, which dealt with maritime inspections.
On the 15th of July 1992, it was decided by NATO’s security council to be launched an operation. On the 16th of July 1992, at 8:00 local time, when the first Units of STANAVFORMED entered the Adriatic Sea, in order to participate in the NATO “MARITIME MONITOR” OPERATION. SNFM had been temporarily replaced by STANAVFORLANT, from 9 to 26 of September, to allow a change of command and a complete replacement of the participating ships. From the 22nd of November 1992 to the 15th of June 1993, the Force participated in “MARITIME GUARD” operation, as NATO’s contribution to the U.N. embargo against Former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The operation was conducted in coordination with WEU “SHARP FENCE” Operation.
On the 15th of June 1993, NATO MONITOR and SHARP FENCE operations were combined το form NATO/WEU “SHARP GUARD” operation. STANAVFORMED continued the embargo operation until the 18th of June 1996, when the embargo was lifted. Ever since, STANAVFORMED remained in readiness, to assume operations in case U.N. sanctions were imposed again. Readiness of the Force was maintained until the 1st October 1996, when all embargo had been lifted.
From the 22th of November 1992 when the embargo was imposed, until the 18th of June 1996, over 70.000 ships had been checked by NATO and WEU units. 7.000 of those ships were searched by STANAVFORMED boarding personnel, or ordered to dock for inspection. As soon as the U.N. approved the embargo enforcement, in April 1993, no merchant or other ship could break the naval and maritime blockade.
STANAVFORMED deployed in Adriatic Sea, on the 14th of October 1998, as part of NATO’s preparations for potential operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Following agreements that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would conform to the requirements of the International Community, SNFM was authorized to assume its appropriate duties. When conflicts started again in Kosovo, on the 20th of January 1999, NATO Council decided to take steps towards increasing the capability of NATO Forces to conduct air operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. STANAVFORMED was ordered to be deployed in Adriatic Sea, aiming to boost the presence of the Alliance in the region and provide information on the implementation of NATO’s decision.
Upon completion of the “ALLIED FORCE” air operation, on the 20th of June 1999, STANAVFORMED resumed its peacetime duties, in order to be prepared to support NATO operations.
On January 1st, 2005, the Force was renamed to STANDING NATO MARITIME GROUP – 2. According to the plan of SNMG- 2, the Force’s units have been deployed out of the Mediterranean ( Red Sea, from 18 October to 18 November 2007 as well as the Arab Sea and the Persian Gulf from 15 October to 5 December 2008).
During the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers, held in Brussels, on June 12, 2009, the deployment of SNMG2 (and SNMG1, by turns) was decided to assume duties in Operation “Ocean Shield”, a counter piracy operation, to ensure that NATO anti-piracy activities will continue in the Horn of Africa. On June 25 2009, the Force sailed through Suez and replaced SNMG1, on June 29 2009. The mission of the Force was to escort and protect the cargo of ships of the UN World Food Programme delivering food aid to Somalia, as well as to deter piracy activities in the broader area of the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.