By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
The U.S. Sixth Fleet flag ship, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) and U.S. Sixth Fleet staff departed Split, Croatia, after a port visit July 30 – August 2, 2021, a day before the start of Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021.
Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander U.S. Sixth Fleet, hosted Croatian defense and governmental officials aboard Mount Whitney to reinforce the strong U.S./Croatian bilateral defense relationship. While in port, Sailors and staff volunteered at the NGO MOST homeless shelter during a community relations project to build interpersonal community relationships and give back to the city.
Charge d’Affaires Mark Fleming welcomed the port visit and noted defense cooperation between the United States and Croatia is a cornerstone of the bilateral relationship.
Fleming said: “Over the past ten years, U.S. military assistance to Croatia reached approximately four and a half billion Kuna (over $700 million) in the form of training, equipment, infrastructure construction, and specialized military education. Since Croatia joined the NATO Alliance 12 years ago, U.S. and Croatian military personnel have served together from Afghanistan to Iraq to Kosovo. The U.S.-Croatia partnership on land and at sea is essential to our two countries’ NATO military cooperation and shared security.”
After departing Split, Mount Whitney will kick off LSE 2021, a two-week live, scenario-driven, globally integrated exercise that will provide high-end training at sea and ashore against a challenging adversary force. LSE 2021 will signal that the U.S. military remains ready because of its global operation commitments and is stronger because of its alliances.
LSE 2021 will demonstrate the flexibility inherent within Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO), and Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE) signaling to our competitors the U.S. military remains ready at the high–end of warfare expressly because of its global operational commitments, rather than in spite of them.
LSE 2021 will include approximately 36 live ships underway ranging from aircraft carriers to submarines, over 50 virtual units and an unlimited array of constructive units in addition to the Sailors, Marines, Government civilian and contract employees assigned to command and training staffs providing support to the exercise. Participating units will span 17 time zones to include six naval and Marine Corps component commands, five U.S. numbered Fleets and three Marine Expeditionary Forces.
USS Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in Europe and Africa. The U.S. Sixth Fleet, 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.