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By Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO and U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) and U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) commenced Vigilance Activity Neptune Strike 2022.2 (NEST 22.2) at STRIKFORNATO headquarters in Oeiras, Portugal, Oct. 14.
The centerpiece of NEST 22.2 is the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group (GHWBCSG), which arrived in the Mediterranean Sea in August on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
During NEST 22.2, SIXTHFLT will conduct a transfer of authority (TOA) of the GHWBCSG to STRIKFORNATO. While under STRIKFORNATO command and control, the CSG and other allied units will deliver effects in Allied Joint Forces Command (JFC) Naples and JFC Brunssum joint operating areas (JOAs), demonstrating Alliance cohesion and the ability to simultaneously operate throughout European waters.
Allied and partner nations scheduled to participate in NEST 22.2 include Albania, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States.
NEST 22.2 is the eighth phase of NATO’s long-planned Project Neptune series, building on previous phases of the project including Neptune Challenge in October and November 2021, Neptune Strike in January and February 2022, and Neptune Shield in May 2022. As in previous phases of Project Neptune, NEST 22.2 brings NATO commands throughout the Alliance together to plan and execute multi-domain real-world vigilance activities.
“The Neptune series is a tangible demonstration of the power and capability of the NATO Alliance in all domain operations,” said Vice Adm. Thomas Ishee, commander SIXTHFLT and STRIKFORNATO. “Neptune Strike 22.2 is a prime example of NATO’s ability to integrate high-end maritime warfare capabilities of an allied carrier strike group, ensuring our collective ability to deter and defend.”
Within the frame of Deterrence and Defense of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA), this vigilance activity will improve interoperability of allied CSGs, STRIKFORNATO, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and the wider Alliance and partners.
“The Neptune Series of peacetime vigilance activities, integrating carrier strike and amphibious strike capability into NATO operations, has become routine work for this battle staff – generating effects in the maritime, air and land domains, providing deterrence and reassurance, and offering powerful opportunities for Allied interoperability,” said Royal Navy Rear Adm. James Morley, STRIKFORNATO’s deputy commander. “I am excited to watch this outstanding team of professionals come together again and prove the power and cohesion of our NATO Alliance.”
Vigilance Activities are a base line, or normal day-to-day activities, occurring in all domains, and across SACEUR’s area of responsibility to ensure appropriate strategic awareness and force readiness required to sustain peace.
During deployment workups in June, STRIKFORNATO participated as NATO Headquarters in GHWBCSG’s Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), practicing command and control from Oeiras to the strike group on the United States’ east coast, marking STRIKFORNATO’s third vignette with allied forces during training and certification events.
GHWBCSG’s rapid integration into NATO planning and exercises early in its deployment exemplifies the value that these vignettes provide to U.S. carrier strike groups preparing to deploy, as well as a demonstration of NATO Allies’ ability to cooperate and integrate effectively.
“The GHWBCSG has worked closely with our counterparts at STRIKFORNATO and within the NATO Alliance since our pre-deployment training events,” said Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, GHWBCSG. “We look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationships while also training with our Allies. The teamwork, trust, and combat readiness built through these events are our competitive advantage.”
STRIKFORNATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe's (SACEUR) premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. SIXTHFLT is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.