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NEWS | Dec. 13, 2019

Podcast E14: Year in Review: U.S. Naval Activity in Europe and Africa

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs

In the 14th episode of “On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African Theaters,” Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (CNE-CNA), discussed what the U.S. Navy has been doing throughout Europe and Africa over the past year.

Foggo reviewed why the Navy is critical to the security of the United States and highlighted key events from dual carrier operations and the ABC submarine embark, to describing who we are in the “Fourth Battle of the Atlantic.”

CNO’s Guidance to the Fleet

The podcast started by covering the newly-released guidance from Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, to the Fleet. The focus of the guidance is simple: "Warfighting, Warfighters, Future Navy.”

Foggo broke this down for listeners by going over what each of these mean for U.S. Navy:

  • On “Warfighting,” Foggo said: “A Navy that is ready to win across the full range of military operations.”
  • On “Warfighters,” Foggo said: “A Navy that is world-class. We will recruit, educate, train and retain America's most talented men and women, and they will be warfighters.”
  • On “Future Navy,” Foggo said: “A Navy that is fully prepared to fight and win.”

Foggo stated CNE-CNA, along with other overseas commands, represent America’s away team in that the Navy operates forward around the world to confront threats before they can reach U.S. shores; we protect U.S. national interests and those of our allies and partners and help maintain security and stability in the maritime domain so all law-abiding nations can freely use international waters for commerce.

U.S. Navy Increased Presence in Europe and Africa

A good example of maintaining security and stability is U.S. Navy operations in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. CNE-CNA has increased presence in those areas as responses to Russia’s resurgence and aggressive actions in those areas.

Why the need for a response? Foggo said, “Russia's recent history of not following international laws, norms, and standards of behavior; their increased presence in the Eastern Mediterranean could cause the potential for escalation could lead to possible tension.”

Foggo mentioned the importance of dual carrier operations in a show of support for our NATO allies and partners: “Having two carrier strike groups operating in the Mediterranean is a visible demonstration of our commitment to the NATO alliance and to our partners, and it sends a very strong signal to any potential adversary.”

He finished the segment by discussing the media embark of ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir, “David saw firsthand the awesome capabilities that USS Florida provides to our national leadership.”

These capabilities include our submarines’ ability to travel throughout the world undetected.

Both of these events – dual carrier operations and the media embark aboard USS Florida – were significant, and they were just the tip of the iceberg of all the U.S. Navy has been doing these past 12 months.

Demonstrating High-End Warfighting

One of the main, high-end warfighting events from 2019, exercise Formidable Shield, took place on the other side of Europe, where NATO allies and partners came together to work through missile defense and anti-submarine warfare training scenarios.

The exercise involved 13 ships, 10 aircraft, and 3,300 personnel representing nine countries. Foggo explained the why and what was accomplished: “The Integrated Air and Missile Defense Network provides an umbrella of protection over Europe from the threat of ballistic missiles. For the third time, we showcased the fact that we can hit a bullet with a bullet at Mach speed thousands of miles above the surface of the earth.”

The exercise had 12 successful live-fire engagements against subsonic, supersonic, and ballistic missiles using NATO’s coordinated command-and-control structure.

“We demonstrated our ability not only to deal with ballistic missiles threats, but also how to deal with the proliferation of anti-ship missile threats, which we know are not just getting larger in volume but are becoming significantly more lethal,” noted Foggo.

“The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic” Comes to Life

Back in 2016, Adm. Foggo wrote an article with Dr. Alarik Fritz called “The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic.” In the article, they predicted that Russia’s subsurface threat would grow over the next couple of years and that the country’s abilities for “out of area deployments” would only increase.

Jumping to 2019, “We're seeing the Russians deploy more submarines in the North Atlantic, and these subs are deploying for longer periods of time and with more lethal weapon systems, said Foggo. “Russia has returned to Soviet-era outposts and has built new military facilities in the Arctic Circle. Russia's even built an icebreaker that can carry the Kalibr missile.”

In response to Russia’s reassurance and increased naval capacity and capability, Foggo said, “The U.S. and NATO have answered the call by increasing our naval presence across the theater and increasing our exercises and operations with allies and partners.”

Foggo ended the segment with saying that the U.S. Navy “…through forward presence, power projection and technological advantage…” will help prevent future conflicts and be a deterrence to aggressors who try to destabilize the global order.

Africa Stability Key to World Stability

Admiral Foggo also discussed the importance of stabilization in Africa and how the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard continued to work with our African partners throughout 2019.

"Africa is well-positioned for economic and industrial expansion with its strategic location and fast growing population, which represents microeconomic opportunities in many villages and cities across the continent,” said Foggo, adding, “Their collective potential will only be realized, however, if Africa bolsters its security institutions across national, regional and local levels, on the land, on the sea and in space.”

In 2019, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard did exactly that by working side-by-side with African counterparts to bolster their naval and coast guard capability to provide for their maritime security.

Foggo concluded the segment discussing the importance of the maritime domain, saying, “We've got to acknowledge that there is a great power competition happening across Africa. As Russia and China intensify their efforts to leverage Africa's people and resources, the continent's future lies in the balance, with direct impact on both global and North American security.”

Further highlighting the importance of a strong relationship with our African partners, Foggo said: “When maritime trade sails freely across the oceans, economic development and opportunities for prosperity flourish. Also, maritime resources are the inheritance, if you will, of current and future generations. Stewardship requires leaders who advocate and protect the maritime domain.”

Exercises and Operations Build Capability and Capacity

The African “Express” series of exercises, established in 2010, assists our African partners in combatting what he referred to as “sea blindness.”

Some governments did not understand the importance of protecting their economic zones from illegal activity back in 2010, but with mentorship from the U.S. Navy and other agencies, the realization and significance has since developed into a full understanding. African partners regularly work with the U.S. Navy in exercises like Phoenix Express, Obangame Express, and Cutlass Express to further enhance their capability and capacity.

“The U.S. Navy has steadily been working with our African partners to improve their ability to monitor their maritime environment, track and respond to threats, and to cooperate with other regional security forces,” said Foggo.

These regional security forces include locations such as the West Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Gulf of Guinea.

The three-part Operation Junction Rain (OJR) conducted in 2019 provides our African counterparts advice and assistance during real-world law enforcement operations against illegal fishing, illicit trafficking of all forms, piracy, and pollution within the respective country's exclusive economic zone. One added feature for 2019 was the value of U.S. Coast Guard cutter Thetis, the first USCG cutter to operate in the African theater since 2011.

Foggo pointed out our collective efforts are making a difference.

“Ghana recently arrested an illegal fishing vessel, the Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956, which was assessed a $1 million fine for its illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities,” and  “the Cabo Verdean Coast Guard intercepted an illicit drug shipment of more than 2,200 kilograms of cocaine heading to the West African coast,” said Foggo

The continued work with our African partners creates lasting relationships, improves the security environment, and benefits us all.  

“Together, we are finding African solutions to African problems. It's a night and day difference between 2010 and today,” said Foggo. “Together, we are building progress to a more stable and secure Africa.”

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: SpotifySpeakerSound CloudiTunes, and Stitcher (ADD GOOGLE, iHeart Radio, and others)

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Listen to "Episode 14 On the Horizon" on Spreaker.