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NEWS | March 16, 2024

U.S. Naval Forces Europe concludes Austere Challenge 2024

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) concluded participation in exercise Austere Challenge 2024 (AC24), March 4-14. The two-week, virtual exercise practiced the command's response to a fictional major crisis. "Austere Challenge 2024 assessed and refined our capability to rapidly and effectively respond to theater-level crises," said Adm. Stuart B. Munsch, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. "Improving interoperability between various commands and agencies sharpens our collective warfighting advantage.  This exercise advanced our combined ability to confront crisis and resolve issues in one of the most dynamic and volatile theaters in the world." AC24 is part of a series of exercises planned and executed for more than three decades.  The integrated teams of military, civilian and rapid-augmentation U.S. Naval Reserve forces operated in a virtual environment across the European theater.  Through coordination between teams, NAVEUR-NAVAF developed and improved its warfighting advantage, enabling the staff to respond efficiently and effectively when confronted with a real-world crisis in theater. "Austere Challenge tested our mettle as the maritime component and we learned some great lessons - it was a tremendous success," said Maj. Gen. Robert Sofge Jr., commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe and Africa. "Our Marines integrated with our Navy partners and attacked the complex problems presented by the scenario. This exercise is a vital component of ensuring we are ready to respond to crises in support of regional stability and security and I'm proud of how our Navy-Marine Corps team responded." This year's exercise focused on combatant command coordination and the integration of capabilities across the U.S. European Command's area of responsibility. AC24 tested the readiness of forces faced with theater crises, validated strategic avenues for success, practiced deterrence principles, and reinforced interoperability within the NATO Alliance framework. 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.