Allied Operation Allied Provider was responsible for naval escorts to World Food Program (WFP) vessels and, more generally, patrolled the waters around Somalia. Alliance presence also helped to deter acts of piracy that continue to threaten the region.
While providing close protection for WFP vessels and patrolling routes most susceptible to criminal acts against merchant vessels, NATO ships could use force pursuant to the authorized Rules of Engagement and in compliance with relevant international and national law.
Allied Provider was a temporary operation that was requested by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, on 25 September 2008. NATO provided this counter-piracy capacity in support of UNSC Resolutions 1814, 1816 and 1838, and in coordination with other international actors, including the European Union.
NATO defence ministers agreed to respond positively to the UN's request on 9 October, during an informal meeting held in Budapest, Hungary. Following this decision, planning started to redirect assets of SNMG2 to conduct anti-piracy duties.
SNMG2 was already scheduled to conduct a series of Gulf port visits in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates within the framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). As such, it started to transit the Suez Canal on 15 October to conduct both duties at the same time.