EUCAP Somalia newly appointed Deputy Head of Mission, Chris Reynolds, from Ireland, made his comeback to Mogadishu on January 23rd.
He has previously served in the Mission as Head of Operations.
His maritime career started in 1979 when he joined the Irish Navy as an Executive Branch (Deck) Officer. He served in all seagoing positions on board various Irish Naval vessels.
Somalia is not the only crisis area Chris Reynolds is experienced in.
In 1996 he was deployed to Lebanon with the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL). Chris was in charge of humanitarian convoys set in place during Israeli-Hezbollah ‘Grapes of Wrath’ conflict and was awarded a citation for bravery for his actions at the time of the Qana massacre.
In 1985, on board the LE Aisling as Gunnery Officer, he was Gunnery Officer on the On Scene Commander for the response to the first terrorist bombing of a jumbo jet, the Air India disaster where members of his diving team were decorated for bravery.
Since 1997, when he joined the Irish Coast Guard he acted as the On Scene Incident Manager for the majority of maritime accidents that occurred in the Irish Seas for the following ten years and became Director in 2007.
EUCAP Somalia’s new Deputy Head of Mission is also an underwater bomb disposal expert.
In the job he temporarily left to lead EUCAP Somalia, Chris Reynolds dealt extensively – and among others – reviewing Ireland’s maritime security architecture, providing assistance to persons in danger at sea or on the coast, as well as dealing with maritime environmental and shipping security related activities. This extensive and broad civil and military expertise is now at the disposal of his Somali colleagues.
“I am very happy to be back in the Mission and to bring my experience both as the previous Head of Operations but also as Director of the Irish Coast Guard for the last 12 years” said Chris upon his return in the Horn of Africa”.
He seems to have a clear plan on how to help Somalia re-gain its resources and grow stronger: “A States ocean is a national asset which if safe and secure will support a diverse marine economy, with vast potential to tap into a marine market for seafood, tourism, oil and gas, marine renewable energy, and even for new applications for health, medicine and technology”,.
Asked about “how to get there”, he replies: “Maritime security is the key to good ocean governance which includes the effective control of maritime borders and the prevention of trans-national crime such as piracy, smuggling and trafficking which can de-stabilise entire regions. In the longer term the creation of the conditions needed for Somalian economic growth, investment and job creation depends on ensuring a safe, secure and protected coastal waters and shipping ports consistent with international norms of governance”.
The way ahead is long, certainly winding, however the main reason why Chris Reynolds returned to Somalia at this point in his professional life is to give his contribution to Somalia’s security and future prosperity.