Sunday, July 15, 2018

Exercise Sea Breeze 2018 Kicks Off in Ukraine

NAPLES, Italy -- The 18th iteration of exercise Sea Breeze kicked off following opening ceremonies in Odessa and Shiroky Lan training range, Ukraine, July 9.

Sea Breeze is designed to enhance interoperability among participating nations and strengthen regional security by focusing on a variety of warfare areas, officials said.

“This annual multinational maritime exercise has enhanced our interoperability and capabilities among participating forces,” said Navy Capt. Matthew Lehman, commodore of Task Force 65. “The exercise seeks to build combined capability and capacity to ensure regional security and foster trust among participating nations.”

Some of the training areas include maritime interdiction operations, air defense, antisubmarine warfare, damage control tactics, search and rescue, and amphibious warfare.

6th Fleet Flagship

“This year’s Sea Breeze is the first time we will take the staff to sea and embark the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, USS Mount Whitney,” Lehman said. “We will be operating our flagship alongside our NATO allies and partner nations in the Black Sea. The maritime portion will incorporate all warfare areas to continue to build on last year’s successes while pushing the exercise to become more advanced to adhere to the ever-changing operational environment.”

U.S. participation includes the command and control ship USS Mount Whitney; the guided missile destroyer USS Porter; a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from Patrol Squadron 10; Marines from Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment; Navy Underwater Construction Team 1 divers; and members of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. 6th Fleet staff.
U.S. 6th Fleet conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.

Mattis Commends Norway’s Commitment to Global Peace, Security

By Lisa Ferdinando, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis hailed the strong bond between the United States and Norway and commended the Nordic nation for its commitment to global peace and security in Oslo, Norway, yesterday.

The closeness is illustrated by the democratic ideals espoused in both nations’ constitutions, a bond strengthened by some 5 million Americans who claim Norwegian ancestry, Mattis said.

Mattis, who met with Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jense and Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, said the United States and Norway have steadily built the strong bond over more than a century.

“It’s bolstered by strong shared values and our desire, our mutual desire for trans-Atlantic unity as demonstrated by the importance our two nations place on democracy, on individual liberties and the rule of law,” he said.

“In America, we do not take for granted the strong bond between our peoples,” he added.

Norway Reaffirms Commitment to Global Security

Mattis commended Norway for its recommitment at the NATO summit last week to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. NATO members pledged at the alliance’s 2014 summit in Wales to invest 2 percent of their GDP in defense programs.

The commitment, Mattis said, “lends credence to the reality that NATO is stronger today than it was yesterday, stronger than it was a month ago, stronger today than it was a year ago.”

Bakke-Jensen described the United States as Norway’s “closest and most important ally,” saying the relationship includes strong and broad defense cooperation. “Our soldiers operate together in conflict areas around the world, and they increasingly work together in Norway and the North Atlantic,” he said.

‘Standard-Bearer’ for Peace, Security

Mattis recognized Norway for its commitment to global peace and security, which includes its support of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, and the coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“You generously contribute to global stability to increase support of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan,” he said. “Your nation’s commitments to peacekeeping development are commendable,” he said, “because as we all know you’re a standard-bearer for the international responsibilities of peacekeeping, of development funding -- all those kinds of things that ultimately, we stand for.”

The professionalism, dedication and skill of the Norwegian forces have strengthened the defeat-ISIS coalition, Mattis remarked.

Hosting Hundreds of U.S. Rotational Forces

Further, Mattis thanked Norway for hosting up to 700 U.S. Marines on a rotational basis for rigorous cold-weather training.

“We’ve always benefited from our close relationship, and we have an almost assured mil-to-mil relationship ensured by the human beings who spend time in each other’s countries,” he said.

The talks in Oslo were aimed at discussing ways to advance the militaryto-military relationship and finding ways to further deepen the already strong bond the countries share, Mattis explained.