Johnny Depp doesn’t quite have the market cornered on pirates, at least if you ask Lt. Adrianne Mittelstaedt. Raised in Helena, now a U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps Officer, Mittelstaedt has spent the past three months deployed on a Turkish Navy Frigate, whose primary mission is to deter and disrupt real-life pirates who terrorize the waters off the coast of Africa, Yemen and Oman.
In September she deployed to the flagship TCG Gemlik, as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, one of three Task Forces under the banner of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). CMF operates as a partnership of many different nations who provide naval assets to fight piracy, terrorism and narcotics smuggling on the high seas. CTF 151’s piece of that pie is piracy.
In her latest role, Mittelstaedt is the principal legal advisor to Turkish Navy CTF 151 Commander, Rear Adm. Oğuz Karaman. As one of 19 command staff from seven different nations, she routinely provides legal advice on a range of issues that involve international law, rules of engagement, United Nations Security Council Resolutions and laws of the sea. This particular mission requires oversight and monitoring of an expanse of ocean that stretches over 2.5 million square miles, from the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Somali Basin and south to the Indian Ocean.
Mittelstaedt says: “It is one experience I wish every officer in the U.S. Navy could take part in early on in their careers. Working with a foreign Navy opens your eyes to a wealth of varying leadership styles and cultural idiosyncrasies embedded in different Navies. Having daily discussions with staff from seven different countries has helped me develop an awareness and sensitivity to issues that you just don’t get exposed to within your own service.”
She continued: “My main job is to keep our operations within a legally defined set of rules of engagement, which vary between the nations embarked on the task force. Correct interpretation of these constraints keeps us within the bounds of international and domestic law. On the other hand, I don’t know how to navigate the ship, or plan for a focused operation, so we each rely heavily on one another in our individual expertise –if we don’t act as a team we don’t succeed.”
Mittelstaedt will finish up her position in Bahrain in January and head to Virginia for her next orders. She says that she is looking forward to returning back to America. She said “I have missed my family and friends a lot, especially after being so far from home.”