EASTERN ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Military forces from ten allied countries converged here July 11 to begin MEDSHARK/Majestic Eagle '04 (MS/ME04), a multinational exercise involving more than 20,000 personnel, 30 ships, and nearly 150 aircraft.
For the next five days, the units will engage in realistic scenarios intended to enhance interoperability between participating nations and cultivate their capacity to deal with 21st century security challenges.
"Any operation that takes place today will either happen in a coalition or within the context of an organization like NATO," said Royal Navy Rear Adm. Paul Boissier, deputy commander for Strike Force NATO (SFN), the alliance's maritime component command overseeing the exercise. "During this exercise, we will get people together to refine warfighting procedures and competencies, so that when we go into an operation, we can get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible, with minimum loss of life."
MS/ME04 is the European theater's capstone event of the U.S. Navy's Summer Pulse '04 operation, during which seven aircraft carriers have simultaneously been underway in five different theaters. The additional ships operating in the European theater have provided exercise planners with a wealth of resources to create challenging and realistic mission scenarios.
"This opportunity is special because it's been a long time since we've had four aircraft carriers together in a NATO exercise," said U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Harry Ulrich, Commander of SFN and the U.S. 6th Fleet. "Additionally, this was designed as a short notice exercise to see how flexible NATO forces are. We have been able to bring 30 ships together in short order and they are working very well. I'm very pleased with the planning process and the integration we have seen so far and look forward to a very productive and rewarding exercise."
One of the exercise's most significant objectives is the employment of NATO command-and-control architecture to prosecute the battle. While nation-specific forces typically use individual methods during execution of military operations, operating under separate procedures can be detrimental to combat readiness and mission accomplishment when practiced in a joint environment. MS/ME04 is the ideal forum to put everyone on the same page of the playbook.
"Some things match up and some things don't when you bring together different countries and even different services within the same country," said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Thomas Glazer, an exercise planner at SFN. "Systems, nomenclature, language, communication . . . those are common friction points when you first start working as a team. With NATO command and control, we eventually eliminate those variations and become familiar with a single way of doing things. The more you go out and practice your job, the better you are at it, so this should be a very productive opportunity for us."
During the exercise, participating forces will be exposed to numerous maritime and aviation challenges testing their ability to operate as a cohesive coalition. Training evolutions will include long-range air strikes, night operations, naval surface fire, surface warfare, maritime intercept operations and several other tactical disciplines. The majority of the events will take place near the Cap Draa training range off the coast of Morocco, host nation for the exercise.
In addition to Morocco, participating nations include France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States. Greek military officials will actively observe the exercise.
Summer Pulse '04 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs), demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe, in five theaters, with other U.S., allied, and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy's first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP).
For more information about Summer Pulse '04, visit the CFFC Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm or visit the Summer Pulse '04 Navy NewsStand site at www.news.navy.mil/local/pulse04.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/c6f.