USS IWO JIMA, At Sea (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Chris A. Snow, U.K. Royal Navy, Deputy Commander, Strike Force NATO (STRIKEFORNATO), paid a visit to the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) July 22-24.
Rear Adm. Chris A. Snow, of the U.K. Royal Navy, observed Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 08-4 to determine how STRIKEFORNATO can best be integrated into a future JTFEX.
"JTFEX is a fantastic opportunity, and there's a wonderful training ground here. It's a real opportunity for me to practice in a NATO context how to command at a two-star level in very complicated operations. Again, what a fantastic opportunity something like JTFEX provides."
During the visit, Snow observed the operations of both the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26 MEU). This afforded him the opportunity to observe how the ESG operates within the exercise Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander (CFMCC) structure.
STRIKEFORNATO could be integrated into JTFEX as early as 2010.
"What I am focusing on, is trying to get ready to command in 2010," said nSnow. "Today I've got about 10 people embedded inside the JTFEX at the maritime component command organization. Next year, we'll do the same and work up to a full Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC) with 120 people in the fall of 2010."
The STRIKEFORNATO structure is flexible from one-star to three-star core commands to fill a variety of amphibious roles at sea or shore. Currently, there are 10 member nations of STRIKEFORNATO, led by U.S. Vice Adm. James A. Winnefeld, who also command the U.S. 6th Fleet.
"We were eight nations for a long time and just recently we had France and Poland join in," said James Bergeron, political advisor to commander, Strike Force NATO. "It creates a great mix because those countries bring their national expertise and perspective."
"Let me emphasize, we have multinational marines force representation as well, which is unique in NATO. In the force structure, that adds a great mix of countries, some with Mediterranean experience. We have blue water navies, amphibious navies and a lot of different complimentary skill sets come together."
Iwo Jima is participating in JTFEX 08-4 as part of the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). The Iwo Jima ESG consists of Iwo Jima; the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50); the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17); the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72); the guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage (DDG 61); all homeported in Norfolk; the guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), homeported at Mayport, Fla.; and the fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768), homeported at Groton, Conn.; and a Marine Landing Force from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
For more news from Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/iwoesg/.