LT DIXON: Thank you for joining us for our second podcast. Today’s episode with Admiral Foggo will discuss Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group’s return to Europe; how the U.S. and NATO are addressing challenges in the North Atlantic and Arctic; The upcoming exercise Trident Juncture; International Sea Symposium and finally, the Black Sea Conference.
LT DIXON: Hello Admiral Foggo, and thank you for joining us. The European and African theaters continue to get busier as the security environment gets more intense. From your perspective, how is the U.S. Navy adjusting to the ever-changing security environment?
ADM FOGGO: Hey, Lieutenant Dixon, good to see you again. Thanks for coming in.
That’s a great question. The security environment has changed dramatically over the last few years, and I don’t know if we yet understand what a new normal look like.
This is the reason why the United States Navy is here in Europe and in Africa, why we’re forward deployed around the world. As security situations change, our naval forces are much better postured to deal with and defend and maintain stability and security. And if necessary, defeat any threat.
It’s really our presence that reassures our allies and partners that we’re here for them, and that we’ll be here when and where it really matters.
LT DIXON: And, Sir, can you give us an instance of where our presence reassures our allies?
ADM FOGGO: A great example, most recently, and you mentioned it, is the Harry S. Truman Strike Group’s return to the European theater. I couldn’t be more happy about that. The aircraft carrier and its air wing, a guided missile cruiser and guided missile destroyers, are currently operating in the North Atlantic. It really showcases the flexibility of the United States Navy to operate where and when it needs to be in support of our allies and partners in the theater, as well as in support of our United States national security interests.
So the Harry S. Truman Strike Group enhances all of our collective security and helps by really conducting realistic, multilateral training events in a pretty physically challenging environment this time of year in the North Atlantic.
LT DIXON: Is this in response to the new National Defense Strategy?
ADM FOGGO: The National Defense Strategy makes pretty clear, the central challenge to U.S. security is the return of a great power competition, specifically with regard to a resurgent Russia and a rising China.
So our naval forces work alongside allies and partners to ensure that we maintain a rule-based international order. I like that term a lot. And that that rule-based order is dominant in the North Atlantic and the Arctic regions amongst geopolitical competitors between free and revisionist powers.
The security environment requires us to really change the way we operate forward, and as the threats and the adversaries grow in their own capability we’ll continue to train with allies and partners. Be more unpredictable. That’s what Dynamic Force Employment or DFE is all about. Be more agile and sharpen our collective capability and our collective edge.
LT DIXON: You mentioned the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group operating in the North Atlantic and now in the North Sea. With this increasing unpredictability, how does this translate into the call to arms you wrote about in your article “The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic”?
ADM FOGGO: You know, I’m a huge Transatlanticist, and the North Atlantic and the Arctic are extremely important areas to the security of the United States and NATO.
On October 5th, I’ll be discussing this specific subject in Washington, DC, during an event hosted by the Atlantic Council, my friends Dr. Ian Brzezinski and Fred Kempi. The remarks that I’ll make will be centered on an article that Dr. Alarik Fritz and I wrote which will be published in October. It’s called NATO and the Challenge in the North Atlantic and the Arctic. This article is really a follow-up from an article that we wrote in 2016 called the Fourth Battle of the Atlantic.
The Fourth Battle was really a call to arms, I like to call it, to address the threats that we face in this region of the world.
I think it’s important to remind ourselves, too, that you can’t just throw a problem on the table and not do anything about it. So, when I say a call to arms, my remarks at the Atlantic Council and the article that we just finished will highlight how the United States and NATO are answering this call to arms.
LT DIXON: What can you tell us about the increase Russian military activity and its submarine force, specifically, what that means for the U.S. and our allies?
ADM FOGGO: Russia has renewed its capabilities in the North Atlantic and the Arctic in places not seen since the Cold War. For example, Russian forces have recently reoccupied seven of their former Soviet Union bases in the Arctic Circle.
You know, Fareed Zakaria had an excellent segment on this recently in his show Global Public Square, a couple of months ago. And the improved capability of Russia to be able to project power into this region and these strategic roots from the Arctic into the North Atlantic in the GIUK Gap is something that we need to pay particular attention to.
Likewise, you mentioned submarines. I think Russian submarines today are perhaps some of the most silent and lethal in the world, with the exception of our own. I think we still, in the United States Navy, hold the edge.
LT DIXON: And Sir, to that point, what is the best example of growth that the Russians have gone through in regard to their submarines?
ADM FOGGO: Russian missiles, the Caliber Class cruise missile, for example, has been launched from coastal defense systems, long-range aircraft and submarines off the coast of Syria and they’ve shown the capability to be able to reach pretty much all the capitals in Europe from any of the bodies of water that surround Europe.
We know that Russian submarines are in the Atlantic testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing a very complex underwater battle space to try to give them the edge in any future conflict, and we need to deny them that edge.
So not only have Russia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and sometimes confrontational ways, its national security policy, I think is aimed at challenging the United States and NATO, our allies and our partners.
So, I remain concerned about the potential for miscalculation. We shouldn’t ignore this. The simple truth is that as an alliance NATO is stronger together.
LT DIXON: Can we talk about the capability and the response to this from the U.S. and NATO?
ADM FOGGO: The United States and NATO forces are pretty capable. Postured and ready to deter if necessary and defeat any aggression that we face.
The NATO alliance’s purpose is to do just that. To deter first and defend and defeat if necessary second.
I mentioned the article, the Fourth Battle article as being a call to arms. The United States and NATO are answering that call. NATO countries are spending a larger percentage of their nation’s gross domestic product on defense.
We have recently reestablished the 2nd Fleet, and I know everybody’s excited about that. NATO is establishing the Joint Force Command Norfolk and the Joint Support Enabling Command in Ulm, Germany. The reestablishment of the 2nd Fleet puts the U.S. Navy in a better position to respond to any changing security environment and will enhance our capacity to maneuver and to fight in the Atlantic.
So both of these new NATO commands will be what I think are force multipliers for NATO across the Atlantic and across Europe.
LT DIXON: And Sir, that’s the perfect segue into our next topic, Trident Juncture.
You’ll be leading the exercise as the Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples. Can you share your thoughts and the commander, about the exercise and what it hopes to achieve?
ADM FOGGO: Trident Juncture is designed to ensure that NATO forces are trained and able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction.
We’re going to have more than 40,000 participants from 30 allies and partner nations, and that number is growing every day. It’s going to be one of NATO’s largest exercises in the last two decades. I’m pretty excited about it.
It’s an Article 5 exercise. So bottom line is, somebody’s sovereignty has been violated and that is the country of Norway. Norway’s an ally, obviously, of NATO. And they call for help. That’s what Article 5’s all about. And so, we come to assist them in the restoration of their sovereignty through defense and deterrence.
The majority of the exercise will take place in Norway. I look forward to working with the Norwegians.
NATO’s actions have been and will be defensive, transparent, and proportionate to the threat. So, Trident Juncture 18 is a valuable platform for us to work with partners and exchange best practices and work together as an alliance to address crises.
LT DIXON: And, Sir, what partners, other than NATO will be participating in Trident Juncture?
ADM FOGGO: Two very important NATO partners will be involved Sweden and Finland. I was just up talking to the Swedes in their country last month and they’re pretty excited about it. They’ve confirmed their participation and have committed their advanced military, high professional forces. And they have really high-end military capabilities. So, we look forward to having them on board.
So, it’s natural that these nations will take part, the Baltic nations, will take part in Trident Juncture as well. It strengthens our alliance, it strengthens our partnership, and it improves our ability to work together in peace time as well as in a potential crisis.
LT DIXON: What do you see is the biggest different about this exercise than previous ones?
ADM FOGGO: Well, I think its important be transparent, and from the get-go, I did my first press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and I talked about the scope of the exercise, when it starts, when it finishes. What the preponderance of force is going to be. How many people we’re bringing, how quickly we’re moving. So, we’ve been completely open kimono on this.
And since 2014, collective defense has become a more prominent feature of NATO exercises due to the changes in the security landscape, particularly with regard to the illegal annexation of the Crimea by Russia. So, it’s important for us to be able to train and exercise with our allies and partners in the event of a contingency like that that would touch on a member of the NATO Alliance.
Trident Juncture 18 is going to test our ability to plan and conduct a major collective defense operation. So 40,000 troops and all the equipment that goes along with that. You know, there’s 70 ships, 120 aircraft, 10,000 vehicles involved in this thing. Also train the troops of the NATO Response Force and train the troops from the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. We’re going to move them quickly and align with this 30-30-30-30 plan that I talked about.
So, if I leave you with one thought, I want to make sure everybody knows that NATO’s a defensive alliance. We don’t look for opportunities to conduct offensive operations in somebody else’s territory. We defend our own. Our member states.
We pose really no threat to any country.
So conducting an exercise like Trident Juncture 18 demonstrates all of that, and NATO exercises, as you know, are to establish proficiency and training and hone our best practices and our skills in warfighting. They’re a part of a broader response to this changing security environment that I talked about earlier.
LT DIXON: Thank, you Sir, for your inserts in Trident Juncture 18. It sounds like it will be the largest and most dynamic it has ever been. To our next topic, you recently returned from the 23rd International Sea Power Symposium where you met with Secretary of Defense General Mattis, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Richardson, and maritime leaders from across the globe. Can you tell us a little bit about the symposium and what were the major take-aways?
ADM FOGGO: I sure can. It was a wonderful opportunity and I really appreciate the Chief of Naval Operations first of all conducting this at the fountainhead of strategy, our Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, along with Rear Admiral Jeff Harley, the president, a man that I hold in very high esteem.
The theme of International Sea Power Symposium 23, it’s the 23rd time that we’ve done this, and we do them every other year, was Security, Order and Prosperity. While we were doing a bilat with the Italian CNO, he came in and commented on those three simple words mean so much to a group of maritime or naval-minded individuals. Security, Order and Prosperity.
The conference brought together more than 100 nations and 95 heads of service.
We discussed maritime strategy, ways to innovate, and the best use of limited resources amongst a host of other topics.
The event is really kind of special because the symposium’s a rare opportunity to have a gathering of these naval leaders, and this year the CNO programmed in a number of breaks to give us a chance to talk to our counterparts in other nations. I took full advantage of that. In the couple of days I was there, we counted 25 different bilateral or one v. one discussions with heads of service from some of the countries in Europe and many of the countries in Africa, and a few of the countries outside the continent of Europe or Africa.
LT DIXON: And, Sir why this gathering of maritime leaders so important in keeping the order in the international community?
ADM FOGGO: So, I think this was very helpful as we work with our European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian friends, in conducting exercises, operations, high-end warfighting to supporting this international rule of law and order and interoperability that we try to do with partners and allies throughout the world.
We were really fortunate to have the U.S. Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, as one of our speakers. He gave a great talk about the importance of security, order and prosperity throughout the world. He had just come back from the European Theater where he was in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia which could be a future member of NATO. He talked about Trident Juncture in particular and the importance of that exercise.
So, I think, all in all it was a huge benefit to all the participants and I had a chance with the African partners and some of the European partners to talk about the Coalition Force Maritime Commanders Conference, or CFMC that we’re going to conduct here in December with members of African Navies and some of the members of the Southern European Navies.
We want to try to help our African friends through continued exercises like Obangame Express, Cutlass Express, and Phoenix Express. These signature series exercises occur all over Africa. East Coast, West Coast and in North Africa.
LT DIXON: And, Sir, to the Black Sea Conference-our final topic, in September leaders from several Black Sea bordering countries met together in Naples, Italy, to discuss how best to work together. How did the conference go, and what were some of key points?
ADM FOGGO: It was a great conference. We had significant participation from many of the nations bordering on the Black Sea to include the head of Navy from Bulgaria, the head of Coast Guard from Georgia, the head of Navy from Romania, the head of Navy from Turkey, Admiral Adnan Ozbal who in fact has just been promoted to his fourth star, the head of Navy from Ukraine, many individuals from the United States, the United States Navy, and many of our Ambassadors from the Black Sea region. So, it was kind of a mix of diplomacy and naval power, and you know, that I’ve often said that navies are an extended arm of diplomacy, and I think we demonstrated that.
We talked about our common challenges and reinvigorated our commitment to maintaining stability and security and prosperity in the Black Sea region.
The main purpose was to bring leadership together to discuss all the challenges that we face and how we can cooperate better together and identify opportunities that lead to a more stable and secure region in the Black Sea.
LT DIXON: And, Admiral, if you could, what is the origin of the Black Sea Conference and why continue the conversation?
ADM FOGGO: I’m not the first one to do this. I mean I got the idea from Admiral “Grog” Johnson who was here in 2003-2004. He’s been a great mentor and a friend. Admiral Johnson used to do these here in Naples, bring together leadership, diplomats, and have a very heavy discussion about security managers, regionally focused throughout the theater. So, we’ve done a couple of these for the Balkans, we’ve done the Southeast region of Europe, the Black Sea region of Europe, and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to focus on different regions in the future in 2019.
I think in addition to that, it’s not just about getting together here in Naples, it’s about conducting port visits, cultural exchanges, and participation in meaningful, complex, multinational maritime exercises. Sea Breeze is one that was recently conducted and hosted by our friends in the Ukraine.
It’s important also to note that MARCOM, Allied Maritime Command, and my good friend Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone, plays a critical role in stability in the Black Sea. In fact, his Standing Naval Maritime Group II and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group II anticipate operating in the Black Sea for 126 days in 2018, and that number is three times what it was in 2014.
So all these things are a step in the right direction, and our NATO partners and allies will continue to conduct engagements and multinational exercises that enhance interoperability and its long-term effort to improve regional cooperation, maritime security and stability in the Black Sea.
Again, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. We are stronger together. And I think the Black Sea Symposium demonstrated that we can do this.
LT DIXON: Admiral Foggo, thank you for your time.
ADM FOGGO: Thanks for having me, Lieutenant Dixon. I look forward to seeing you next time.
LT DIXON: We hope you have enjoyed our podcast, 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. The podcast is hosted on Sound Cloud, iTunes, Stitcher.com and Speaker.com. Join us next time when Admiral Foggo and I look to discuss various topics and events that are impacting the maritime security environment in Europe and Africa. Thank you.