By Capt. Michaela Connally, TF-61/2 Public Affairs
U.S. Sixth Fleet stood up Task Force 61 Naval Amphibious Forces Europe/ 2d Marine Division (TF-61/2) to synchronize command and control of deployed Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces and advance the integrated Marine Corps capability in the Sixth Fleet area of operations (AOO) on March 16, 2022.
Marines and Sailors from II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), led by Maj. Gen. Francis Donovan, commanding general of 2d Marine Division (2dMarDiv), arrived in Naples, Italy, as members of the newly-formed Task Force.
“Task Force 61/2 embodies the traditional relationship between the Marine Corps and Navy, credible combat-ready forces poised to support our NATO Allies and Partners when called,” said Donovan. “A naval amphibious force commander consolidates the Blue-Green team across U.S. Sixth Fleet and enables experimentation of the Marine Corps concepts outlined by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.”
Task Force 61/2 aligns multiple existing deployed forces under the Naval Amphibious Force commander; deployed amphibious ready groups (ARG), Marine expeditionary units (MEU), and reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance (RXR) forces. They will oversee a wide range of integrated operations, from ARG-MEU operations, port visits and exercises, to contingency planning and RXR operations.
Beyond command-and-control synchronization within the fleet, the task force operationalizes Marine Corps forces critical new concepts through training and experimentation, providing naval and joint force commanders with dedicated multi-domain reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance (RXR) capabilities. TF-61/2 is executing the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Concept for Stand-in Forces (SIF) to generate small, highly versatile units that integrate Marine Corps and Navy forces.
At the Defense Program’s Conference on March 9, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger explained how “Force Design for us, is enhancing the capabilities for naval expeditionary warfare in actively contested spaces wherever those spaces might be … Force Design, for us, is going to enable us to operate to fight, to win, in an even more diverse set of circumstances, regions, scenarios, than we can today.”
TF-61/2’s establishment embodies a shift in II MEF support to a fleet or joint commander in accordance with Force Design. Operationalizing these integrated concepts, capabilities, and doctrine demonstrates Marines are a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness, capable of identifying and deterring malign behavior and, when necessary, fighting inside our adversary’s engagement zone to support numbered fleet commanders’ operations.
“Even more important, even more relevant is what they do to support naval operations,” said Gen. Berger at the Defense Program’s Conference. “For example, Eastern Mediterranean – right now, while we’re sitting here in this room, there’s experiments going on between 2d Marine Division and 6th Fleet. They have demonstrated that Marines can track adversary ships with targeting level fidelity. We’ve even been able to contribute to anti-submarine warfare in the Mediterranean – unheard of, unthinkable for the Marine Corps five years ago. This fundamentally changes the game.”
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 throughout Europe and Africa.