EU Naval Force - Somalia
Operation ATALANTA


chain of command

Major General Antonio Planells Palau

MG Antonio Planells Palau was born in Madrid on August 16th 1959. He joined the Spanish Navy on August 16th 1978 graduating as First Lieutenant (Marine Corps) on July 16th 1983. In July 1986 he was promoted to Captain. Subsequent promotions dates include: Major (October 1995), Lieutenant-Colonel (July 2001), Colonel (July 2009), Brigadier General on March 22nd 2014 and Major General on January 12th 2018.

His professional career includes, among other posts: First Lieutenant in the Royal Guards (Guardia Real) and the “Tercio de Armada” Fire Support Acquisition & Control Squad. As Captain he was in charge of the Madrid Security Company and later assigned to the Operations Platoon of the Reinforced Landing Group. He also served in the 1st Landing Battalion embarking in the Landing Flotilla Staff and the attack transport ship “ARAGON.” As Major, he was posted to the Spanish Navy Studies Commission, the Marine Corps General Headquarters and appointed Logistics Chief of the Marine Corps Brigade. As Lieutenant-Colonel he was Technical Advisor in the Chief of the Defence Staff Inner Cabinet, Chief of Staff of the “Tercio de Armada,” and First Liaison Officer of the U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico (Virginia). As Colonel he was assigned to the Marine Corps Force Staff as Chief of the Plans Section, and was subsequently appointed Director of the Chief of Naval Staff (AJEMA) Inner Cabinet.

From 4th September 2015 until 12th January 2018 he commanded the Amphibious Brigade “Tercio de Armada.”
On the 16th of January 2018 he was appointed Commander of the Spanish Marine Corps. Major General Planells’ international assignments include: United Nations Observer Group in Central America (ONUCA) in 1990, and commanding officer (Major) of a Marine Corps Tactical Sub-group in Bosnia-Herzegovina (SFOR) in 1999.

Operation Commander European Union Naval Force Somalia

The Operation Commander (Op Comd) commands the operation from the Operational Headquarters (OHQ) at Rota, Spain. There he plans and conducts the operation in conjunction with the political and military authorities of the European Union.


Rear Admiral Ignacio Villanueva Serrano

Rear Admiral Ignacio Villanueva is a 1987 graduate of the Spanish Naval Academy.

In 1989 he earned his US Navy wings, becoming a Naval Aviator. He then flew the AV-8V PLUS on board the Spanish carrier ‘PRINCIPE DE ASTURIAS.’ During that period, he was also appointed as an exchange pilot with the Spanish Airforce, flying the EF-18 A+ and taking part in the B-H conflict, where he flew several combat missions deployed from Aviano AB, Italy.

He has commanded the gun patrol boat ‘P-11 BARCELO’, the high seas patrol boat ‘P-63 ARNOMENDI’, the LST ‘L-42 PIZARRO’, the Fleet Air Arm ‘FLOAN’ and the Airfield of the Rota Naval Base. He was the Director of the Fleet Naval Aviation School and the CO of the HARRIER 9th Squadron.

Ashore, he has served in a variety of assignments, most notably as a staff officer in the International Relations Department at the Navy HQ, as ACOS N3 in the SPMARFOR High Readiness Maritime HQ, and as Head of the Operations department at the Spanish Fleet HQ.

Abroad he was stationed in Mons, Belgium, serving at SHAPE J5 as the ACO capability requirements and force planning officer; and in Pristina, Kosovo working as peace observer and liaison officer between KFOR HQ and UNMIK HQ.

Additionally, he has attended several national and NATO courses including the NATO Operational Planning, NATO Staff Officer Defense Planning and NATO expeditionary operations courses. He graduated with distinction from the US Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, after having completed the Naval Staff and the Naval Command Courses. He also obtained a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the same US Naval War College. His academic background is completed with a post as associated professor at the High Defense Studies Center in Madrid, Spain.

As Flag Officer he has been appointed as 2nd Commander of the High Readiness Maritime HQ and most recently Force Commander of the EU NAVFOR Op Atalanta.

He has several Navy medals, one UN medal, one NATO medal and one SPAF medal, and numerous awards and citations.

He is married to Matilde Martin and has four children.

Force Commander

The Force Commander (FCdr) exercises command and control of all military forces in the area of operation: Spanish Frigate Numancia, Italian Frigate Carlo Bergamini, German and Spanish Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircrafts (Cisne and Jester) and Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)


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