By Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Drew Verbis, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
In the 12th episode of “On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African Theater” podcast, Adm. James G. Foggo III highlights his trip to Paris, France and his time with the Baltic Chiefs of Defense during their visit to his headquarters. Additionally we heard from CNE-CNA Fleet Master Chief Derrick Walters concerning CNE-CNA newly pinned chief petty officers.
First Alliance Foundation Colloquium in Paris
Foggo discussed his trip to Paris to speak at the First Alliance Foundation Colloquium which corresponded to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Paris and also the commemoration of 9/11. He explained how these two world-changing events bonded our nations together and continue assist in making our relationship stronger.
He went on to connect the past to today’s challenges, “We face a complex series of challenges and relationships nowadays, including Russia's increasingly aggressive behavior, not just in Europe, but Eastern Mediterranean. There is, separate from the Russians, illicit maritime activity around the entire continent of Africa, there is terrorism on the continent of Africa. It requires us to work together as a team, allies and partners in a joint force, a purple force, with our NATO partners and allies to combat these threats to Western civilization.”
The admiral then tied military engagements from 1781 when French Admiral Grasse helped the U.S. gain our independence. “[Admiral Grasse] helped the United States gain its independence 240 years ago. It was a monumental victory and the French and U.S. navies that built upon that spirit or espirit de corps, ever since.”
Foggo ended the segment by saying, “So we fought together, we've experienced losses together, we have mourned together, and we have celebrated freedom together. The commitment to each other's collective defense and the desire to deter aggression and preserve peace in a highly professional and well-trained manner is inherent in our interoperable navies today, just as it was 240 years ago.”
Visiting Chiefs of Defense from the Baltics
Foggo invited top military leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to his headquarters in Naples, Italy to discuss the maritime security environment. The topics discussed were the maritime security, the maritime domain and stability operations in the maritime environment.
In regards to Baltic security and why it matters to the United States, Foggo said, “So we've done a lot in the Baltic and it's a critical artery of commerce. There's about 15 percent of the world's cargo traffic, transiting in that region every year; it's important that we keep it open.”
The Baltic countries have been building capacity and capability over the years with the U.S. Navy assistance through procurement of equipment, training together through exercises, and sharing information to give awareness of the maritime security environment in the region.
When asked about the security environment, Foggo said, “I remain concerned about Russian military activity that's increased in the region. They have more ships, more aircraft, more intercepts in the air. And they've built up an incredible capacity of military hardware: missiles, anti-access area denial programs, and what we call the Kaliningrad Oblast, which is a little parcel of land that is Russian territory, right there on the Baltic coast.”
The concern about Russian aggression is a real problem for neighbors of Russia and our NATO allies and partners, especially since Russia has invaded two of their neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine. In addition, Russia has seized Ukrainian naval vessels in international waters, put those Sailors in prison and only just recently released them in a prisoner swap with Russia.
Foggo added “we hope for a better environment and better relationship between those two nations in the near future.”
He ended this segment with talking about one of the most important exercises done in the Baltics called BALTOPS.
“We just finished the 47th iteration of BALTOPS, and it continues to be an excellent proving ground to bring in allies and partners that are bordering on the Baltic, and others who want to come up and be part of the northern defense of the alliance… This year, we had 50 ships, 36 aircraft, two submarines and 8,600 personnel from 18 allied and partner nations.”
Newest U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officers
Both Foggo and Walters spoke about the incredible achievement of the newly pinned chief petty officers under their command.
“On September 13th across the globe, the U.S. Navy's newest chiefs received their golden anchors, which signifies them as higher level leaders in the United States Navy.” said Foggo. “It's a significant milestone. That's something to be really proud of.”
Walters added, “And I will tell you, this season and this initiation has been nothing but top you know, world class, to be honest with you. I've been truly proud of the chief's mess and their abilities to do what is best, in the best interest of the Navy and our future chiefs. They did a phenomenal job.”
For two years in a row, Foggo has told the chiefs about the book “Legacy” by James Kerr, which centers on the leadership lessons of the “All-Blacks” New Zealand rugby team, who have won numerous world championships.
Foggo talked at length about the importance of taking to heart these lessons. “These lessons talk about how to continue our competitive edge. There is no second place when it comes to warfighting, and continue the excellent, sustained superior performance of the team on a continuum.”
Walters ended his comments with a charge to the new chiefs, “with added rank comes added responsibility, so much will be asked of them, to continue to contribute but, most importantly, be part of the leadership.”
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
“On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African Theaters” is available on: Spotify, Speaker, Sound Cloud, iTunes, and Stitcher
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