LT DIXON: Welcome to "On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African Theaters." The official podcast of Admiral Foggo, III.
Last week, I sat down with Admiral Foggo to discuss his connection with Europe and his guidance to the Sailors, Marines and civilians of Naval Forces Europe and African.
LT DIXON: Thank you, Sir, for joining us today as we discuss your connections to Europe and your 5 focus areas
ADM FOGGO: Well, thanks for the opportunity to share what’s going on in this theater and why I’m so delighted to be in the position that I’m in as a Navy Admiral and Commander of Joint Force Command Naples and commander of Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa. This is really my dream job after 37 years of active duty service.
LT DIXON: Welcome to “On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African theaters. The official podcast of Admiral James G. Foggo, IIIl.
Last week, I sat down with Admiral Foggo to discuss his connection with Europe and his guidance to the Sailors, Marines, and civilians of Naval forces Europe and Africa.
LT DIXON: Thank you, sir, for joining us today as we discuss your connections to Europe and your five Focus areas.
ADM FOGGO: Well, thanks for the opportunity to share what's going on in this theater and why I'm so delighted to be in the position that I'm in as a Navy Admiral and Commander of Joint Forces Command Naples and Commander of Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa. This is really my dream job after 37 years of active-duty service.
The reason that I love this job so much, is, because all of my roots are European roots. My family hails from Scotland and from the research we’ve done, they’re generations and generations of leather boot makers up north, all Foggos’, whether one G or two G’s.
My maternal great grandfather actually worked on the Firth of Forth Bridge, which was a revolutionary bridge built in the late 1800s that joined Edinburgh with the east of Scotland. He died of a very young age of pneumonia.
And, I suspect it was probably related to the pretty harsh conditions in that very difficult environment up there as they were trying to build this bridge. So, he left my grandfather as an orphan.
He joined an organization, it was a paramilitary organization in Scotland. The 39th Midlothian and Border Horse Guard and I think it made a man out of him. And he decided at that point in his life, he was going to look for a different kind of future—and different prosperity, so, he migrated to Canada.
And, he went to Winnipeg, Manitoba, but at the time, it wasn’t long after his arrival, he got a job at a bank. I have a picture of him as a young banker where he’s wearing a very nice suit and it looked like he was successful.
LT DIXON: Tell us about your family’s link to World War I and World War II.
ADM FOGGO: WWI broke out and he was compelled to go back and defend the commonwealth in the first World War, so he joined the Canadian military. He became a private in the Winnipeg Grenadiers and he fought from majority of the war from 1914 to 1918 in the trenches. And by the end of the war, he completed the war with the rank of Brevet Captain, which means temporary captain.
So, that meant he went from a private to O-3 and I have a photo of him in my office coming out of Buckingham Palace where, at the end of the war where he received the Military Cross from King George and I have the military cross next to that. That’s a very distinguished and high order in the British hierarchy of awards.
My dad like his father, became a Winnipeg Grenadier. My father was commissioned in England in 1941, he came across the Channel in 1944 with the Canadian 4th Infantry Division in July of 1944. So, he got into the fight a little over a month after the invasion of Normandy and he saw some pretty intensive combat as he work this way through on Normandy in France up into Belgium and into Holland and into Germany where about a year and a few months later he demobilized and went back to Canada.
My dad stayed in the Canadian Armed Forces for 32 years and back in the late 1950s, he and my mom received orders to the NATO military base in Rheindahlen, Germany. That's where I was born at the land component command headquarters in Monchengladbach. But I was born into NATO and I jokingly say, was my first NATO assignment as a newborn.
And then, my parents went back to Canada and my father received an assignment to combat development command to fort Belvoir in 1968 and both he and my mother loved being in the Washington area and they loved being around Americans. And he retired down there.
That's how I became an American and so, I was very fortunate that when I receive my citizenship as a naturalized American in 1977, just a couple of months later, I found myself standing tall and to come to court taking the oath of office as a plebe at the United States Naval Academy and it's been a great ride ever since.
LT DIXON: Sir, what an incredible family history from your roots in Scotland all the way to the Naval Academy. Can you tell us about your military career that brought you here to Naples, Italy?
ADM FOGGO: Sure, I decided during my plebe year that I liked chemistry, and so I became a chemistry major and that made me a great candidate for the nuclear power program. So, I was offered a chance to enter the submarine program, nuclear power.
I went out to my first ship which was the USS Sea Devil. Sea Devil was in Charleston, South Carolina, and we had an incredible wardroom. One of my first CO’s was Commander Rich Mase who later retired as Admiral Rich Mase, the 4star commander of STRATCOM. Terrific leader and just incredibly intelligent and an incredible tactician.
He taught me a lot as I was growing up and over three years on that first assignment on a submarine. It was a great learning experiences and that took me to the Olmsted program and to the University of Strasbourg in France where I studied for two years before coming back as a department head.
I was a department head on an SSBN, an older boat, 30 years old, but she actually became the Battle E winner in SUBRON 16 before I left and that was USS Marietta. Two great cruises and very focused people I learned a lot about how our SSBN operations occur and did five strategic deterrent patrols.
Because I'd done the Olmsted program, I spent a couple of years out of the nuke pipeline. I called the detailer and said hey, I prefer not to go to a shore tour, I prefer to go right to my XO tour and I screened for XO. And they said okay. I was really surprised.
I went to a wonderful ship, a class of its own, SSN 671 USS Narwhal. Best thing about the Narwhal was its commanding officer Commander Horatio A Lincoln Jr. What a guy. Just an incredible officer and incredible Submariner—a wonderful person who cared about people and he was a great tactician. Did great things with Narwhal who won the Battle E.
So, I went from being onboard USS Narwhal back to Charleston, South Carolina, and then off to Washington-four tours on the Navy staff and the OSD staff before going to command.
LT DIXON: Sir, how was taking command of your first submarine? What was that like?
ADM FOGGO: The command was great. I was the CO of USS Oklahoma City for three years we had the three deployments: Southern Caribbean counter-drug deployment and then the North Atlantic deployment and then and Arctic deployment.
The ship was just coming out of the yards when I got there. She hadn't been to see in a long time, so I went recruiting around the submarine force and I found three of the most incredible department heads that I've ever met who helped me to the Battle E winner in 2000 and the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy winner in 2000 for the most improved ship in the Atlantic Fleet.
That gave me an opportunity to springboard to command of Submarine Squadron 6 in Norfolk and then Submarine Group 8 here in Naples my first tour in Naples, followed by my second tour in Naples as the commander of U.S. Sixth Fleet and Strike Force NATO and now, as I said, I pinch myself every day.
My dream job here is commander of Joint Force Commander Naples and Commander of Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa.
LT DIXON: Now, Sir, if we can, let's discuss your direction as commander Naval Forces Europe and Africa. You have five main focus areas where you like your first than that five big rocks. Why call them rocks?
ADM FOGGO: Well, sure, I'll be delighted. I do call them the five big rocks, and my public affairs and strike group people say, Sir, you should say Focus Areas, but the reason I called them Big Rocks, is because it's heavy lifting for the team here.
These are all very challenging areas that we must be both subject matter experts and experts in execution at the strategic and tactical level and this theater goes from the North Pole down to the Cape of Good Hope in South African and from 45 West in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean all the way up to the shores of the Caribbean.
With the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean as part of our theater of operations.
LT DIXON: Sir it sounds like the area of responsibility on your command is massive, and you use these five focus areas to guide you and your commanders. The five being theater anti-submarine warfare integrated air and missile defense, forward-deployed naval forces, countering violent extremism, and finally, enhancing African maritime security.
ADM FOGGO: First and foremost, theater anti-submarine warfare. I've used the term in some of my writings that we are in a “Fourth Battle of the Atlantic" right now. And that's not just the Atlantic, that's all those bodies of water I talked about: the Arctic, the Baltic, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar and the GIUK gap in the North Atlantic.
The activity in submarine warfare has increased significantly since the first time I came back to Europe and since the Cold War. The Russian Federation navy has continued to pump rubles into the undersea domain, and they have a very effective submarine force.
We talked a little bit about the Kilos and their ability to launch the caliber missile from any of these seas that I've talked about, and their ability to range any of the capitals of Europe, hence the importance of anti-submarine warfare.
When I would discuss ASW as the deputy director of N35 (ph) in the Pentagon with Admiral Greenert, he would often say, "Hey, look. The best way to find another submarine is not necessarily with another submarine. That's like a needle in a haystack."
ASW is a combined-arms operation and let no one forget that.
So, theater ASW, big rock, is very important, and a combined arms game that involves all of us in the CNE, CNA and 6th Fleet arena.
LT DIXON: And this is a perfect segway into your second focus area that talks to that combined arms game.
ADM FOGGO: Integrated air and missile defense. We have the best anti-ballistic missile in the world, and that is the SM-3. We have demonstrated it and we'll do it again in Formidable Shield '19. And that SM-3 launched from the Arleigh Burke-class warships is a bullet that hits another bullet at supersonic speed in space in the upper tier.
And we are defending against any kind of malign influence or launch of Iranian ballistic missiles, but it is a skillset that many navies in Europe would like to have their own indigenous capability. And so, when we do these demonstrations, we are not alone.
Formidable Shield '17 was an incredible coalition of the willing who came to the range in the Hebrides off of the coast of Scotland for a couple of weeks.
And we did many exercises in which that flotilla was attacked by anti-ship cruise missiles, and allies and partners fired their own defensive weapons to protect a high-value unit that was looking for the ballistic missile coming over the horizon. So tremendous success, part of what we do, and a big reason for having those destroyers in Rota, Spain.
LT DIXON: And so, Sir, in combination with your second focus area, the next one being forward-deployed naval forces, speaking of the actual ships, what can you tell us about their purpose and how they integrate with shore-based defense systems?
ADM FOGGO: On forward-deployed naval forces in Europe. While we couldn't do all the missions that we do without our forward-deployed forces in Europe, and we couldn't do this without partners, either.
When I talk about missile defense, let's not forget the incredible collaboration we get from our Romanian partners with our missile facility in Deveselu, and we are building another missile facility ashore, and it's like an Aegis-class ship ashore in Redzikowo in Poland.
Our FD&F forces afloat are in Rota, Spain. We wouldn't be there if it weren't for the incredible generosity and relationship we have from our host nation in Spain. And that is a port facility that is located in an area that gives us access to the North Atlantic, to the Baltic, to the Mediterranean.
LT DIXON: Admiral, switching to the African theater of operation. To your fourth focus area, on countering violent extremism. What is the Navy actively doing there to address this?
ADM FOGGO: On countering violent extremism. This is something that we face every day. And we see attacks throughout the European theater and the African theater, and even in our own country and Canada. And we defend forward against that. That's the reason we're here.
We want to take that fight to the violent extremists and keep them on their heels and keep them out of our own sovereign countries. And when I say that, I mean all the countries of NATO and the countries of North America that are part of NATO as well.
The U.S. Navy continues to combat violent extremist organizations by dismantling networks of terrorist organizations in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.
We've done a lot of work off the Somali coast, and I think that's been very successful at tamping down piracy operations there to a bare minimum.
Carrier strike group operations were conducted here, with Harry S. Truman most recently in the Eastern Mediterranean. And those strikes took place on ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria and have contributed to the demise of ISIS. But they're still there and there's still much work to be done, so we need to be vigilant.
And the concern is the spread of those ISIS elements that have been dissociated from Iraq and Syria, and potentially establish bases elsewhere, either in Africa or, as sleeper cells in Europe. So, we are vigilant about that.
LT DIXON: And Admiral, to your final focus area, African maritime security. How have our forces integrated and worked with African nations?
ADM FOGGO: On the final big rock, enhancing African maritime security. I've been doing this now, in this theater since 2009 when I worked at SHAPE headquarters and I saw the Africa partnership stations stand up. I saw the Express series exercises. It's our signature series of exercises around Africa.
We do Cutlass Express in East Africa, we do Phoenix Express in North Africa, and we do Obangame, Saharan Express in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, all with the intent of enhancing the quality of the maritime domain of our African partners.
And since 2009 to present, their progress has been like night and day.
We have gone from a time when the African partners either did not have the facilities or the capacity, in terms of ships, to go out and operate.
They now have a robust series of facilities, radars that can coordinate and collaborate across territorial lines. They have an agreement, called the Yaounde Code of Conduct, in the Gulf of Guinea.
And they have vessels that can get under way and challenge nefarious activity in the maritime and counter the pirate activities taking place, whether it be in the Gulf of Guinea, a new surge there, or maintain the status quo where we have beaten piracy on the east coast of Africa, off of Somalia.
So very important. And this gives us an opportunity to relate to our African partners and establish a relationship with countries that are interested and friendly to NATO and to the United States when we are operating bilaterally with them. So, I'm very proud of the African maritime security programs that we run in CNE, CNA and 6th Fleet.
LT DIXON: Admiral Foggo, thank you so much for your time today. We know how incredibly busy you are. Again, we greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us.
ADM FOGGO: I appreciate the opportunity Lieutenant Dixon.
LT DIXON: Thank you for tuning in. We hope you have enjoyed our first episode, “On the Horizon Navigating European and African Theaters.” Please share the podcast with your friends and family and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Join us next time when Admiral Foggo and I look to discuss the key events that are impacting the maritime security environment in Europe and Africa.