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NEWS | Feb. 26, 2024

NATO Assumes Command of U.S. and British Forces in Eastern Mediterranean

By STRIKFORNATO | Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO

Naval Striking Forces NATO will execute a Transfer of Authority (TOA), assuming command of more than 5,000 U.S. Sailors and Marines assigned to USS Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG).

The TOA – which takes place in parallel to NATO’s exercise Steadfast Defender 2024 – brings joint vigilance and Deterrence and Defense (DDA) activities from USS Bataan ARG’s assets, alongside elements of NATO Maritime Command Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNGM 2), and the Turkish Navy.

Individual participating units consist of USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), and RFA Argus (A153). Turkish Naval Forces, operating under national colors, will provide TCG Gemlik (F492) and TCG Gelibolu (DD-484) as a vital part of this joint engagement.

Concerted, collaborative efforts such as the seamless transition of national assets to NATO reinforce the interchangeability of Allied Forces and the agility of Allied command and control structures. This transfer of authority constitutes a tangible, transparent display of advanced capabilities in the maritime domain and the defensive commitment of the NATO Alliance across Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility.

Emphasizing DDA as NATO's foundational pillars, these interactions serve as the perfect stage to display formidable capabilities via agile military forces, all the while testing the ability to conduct a short-notice transfer of authority. Transferring Allied units to NATO's control has become a regular function for STRIKFORNATO, a fact that speaks to the organization’s role within the DDA family of plans.

It is important to clarify that these vigilance activities are distinct from Steadfast Defender 2024, NATO's most significant exercise in decades.

STRIKFORNATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

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. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.