The Swiss and German press have been reporting over the last couple of months that Switzerland will send special forces to counter pirates off the Somali coast. During a visit to Brussels last week, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said Switzerland could participate in Operation Atalanta, the EU's anti-pirate naval mission, with military support and legal experts, Der Bund newspaper reported.
Swiss Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport image
The Swiss newspaper cites military sources as saying the Swiss army could make available 30 professional soldiers from the elite Aufklärungsdetachement (Reconnaissance Detachment)10, one of whose missions is to rescue Swiss citizens caught up in foreign conflicts. The unit trains with French special forces.
But such a deployment would require parliamentary approval and the majority of the Swiss national assembly's foreign policy committee is skeptical because it believes Switzerland does not have the specialized troops required and it does not have a say in EU operations, according to Der Bund.
The Swiss merchant navy has 35 freighters and tankers and 600 seamen. After a Swiss freighter was attacked by pirates in December, the Swiss shipowners' association called on the government for protection.