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NEWS | June 9, 2020

Podcast E18: 21st Century Navy Facing the Future

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

In the 18th episode of “On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African Theaters,” Mr. Jim “Hondo” Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisitions, joined Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (CNE-CNA) to discuss present and future technologies that will help the Navy face any adversary or challenge.

Before introducing his guest, Foggo spoke about how the U.S. Navy in Europe and Africa is still operating despite the restrictions of COVID-19.  He discusses what “open for business” means in during COVID and in an increasingly challenging area of responsibility. In addition, he speaks to the multiple unsafe Russian interactions that our aircraft have had in the last two months.


“Open For Business”

By working alongside partner and allied nations even during COVID-19, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and Africa defined what it means to be open for business.

“Our Navy, no matter what the circumstances, will provide maritime security where and when it's needed.”

During those continued operations, immediately prior to the podcast recording, Russian aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept of a Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft operating in international airspace in the Eastern Mediterranean – the third in two months.

“These types of intercepts put pilots, their crews, and the aircraft in danger. It’s irresponsible and unnecessary behavior… If Russia wants to be considered a global power, they need to act responsibly in international airspace.

Undeterred, U.S. naval forces continued operations in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic, and the Barents Sea.

“We’re operating in three different seas, all at roughly the same time, with destroyers in transition presence of an aircraft carrier strike group.”

More importantly, he praised the success of recent collaborative efforts with regional partners and allies.

“We conducted operations from air defense exercises to maritime [operations] alongside the Italians in the Med, the French and the Spanish in the Atlantic, and our British allies in the Norwegian, North, and Barents Sea.”


Barents Sea Operations

The U.S. Navy sent a Surface Action Group to the Barents Sea for the first time in 35 years, partnering with the British to conduct maritime security operations and ensure right to freedom of navigation.

“The Royal Navy frigate HMS Kent joined our Surface Action Group, which included three guided-missile destroyers from [Forward-Deployed Naval Forces] Europe, USS Portern USS Donald Cook, and USS Roosevelt, our newest addition to the team, and the fast combat sypply ship, USNS Supply,” said Foggo.

Foggo discussed the importance of naval presence in the region, emphasizing the impact of working alongside partners and allies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“Countries look to the United States for help and leadership, and when they do, our allies and our partners see the U.S. Navy on the horizon in Europe and Africa, providing the deterrence needed during these very uncertain times.”


Navy Agility with “Hondo”

Foggo interviewed Geurts about new technology, acquisitions and shipbuilding, sustainment, and other advancements being made to assist the force in accomplishing the mission. Topics included Geurts’ work with Tech Bridges, directed energy, and the new frigate, his work alongside partners and allies, and the global response to COVID.

The secretary emphasized the importance of closing gaps between operator and tools, which he aims to accomplish through his work at the Pentagon.

“Where I think we still have opportunity to go is, tying Soldier or Sailor needs to that for them to recognize there is this whole network there to support them, and that’s where I see things moving forward, is creating those relationships… as you said, COVID was a great example. You called me with a need [for masks], I’ve got an enterprise that could engage. They did, and we could solve a problem.”

Geurts discussed his work with partners and allies, touching on their sharing of best practices to come up with the best solutions.

“The two best traits in the world for me are what I call bold humility… Humble enough to know that you probably don’t have the best answer and that it’s okay that somebody else has got a better answer that you can use, but be bold in action and bold in creating relationships. That’s part of what we’re trying to promote culturally.”

He shared with Foggo his thoughts on COVID and the importance of learning together as we come out of the pandemic.

“It’s how are we experimenting, learning, taking all the things we’ve figured out here and building the new ways of operating where we’ve got the output and the resilience. And a big piece of that’s connecting up our network and breaking down those kinds of barriers we put between organizations.”

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, 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.