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“The opportunities to participate in combined training events with both Swedish and NATO forces demonstrated the importance of maritime and amphibious capability and readiness,” said Capt. Aaron Kelley, commanding officer of the Kearsarge ARG and Amphibious Squadron SIX. “The Kearsarge ARG-MEU team is dedicated to operating alongside NATO Allies and partners as a capable and combined maritime force to ultimately ensure security and stability in the Baltic region.”
During the week-long Swedish interoperability, the ARG-MEU team conducted ship to shore operations, a raid in Ravlunda, and an airfield seizure ashore. At sea, ARG ships conducted military subject matter expert exchanges and maneuvering drills.
“The chance to come to Sweden and train with the Swedish Armed Forces was an outstanding experience for my Marines,” said Col. Paul Merida, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU. “The opportunity to conduct ship-to-shore maneuvers via surface craft and Marine aviation allowed us to practice one of our fundamental skill sets and helps to keep us combat ready. Even better was training alongside a key regional partner. Our Swedish hosts were extremely accommodating and the Swedish military is a first class and superbly professional organization.”
The combined operations demonstrate the substantial capability the ARG-MEU brings to the region.
“Working closely with partners is as always very important for the Swedish Navy. The exercise demonstrates our determination to work together for the security in the Baltic region,” says Captain (N) Jenny Ström, commanding officer of the Third Naval Warfare flotilla.
Immediately following the bilateral training with Sweden, the Kearsarge ARG-MEU transitioned to a maritime-focused exercise with SNMG1, a ready force continuously available to NATO, establishing Alliance presence and providing maritime capability in peacetime as well as during crisis and conflict.
"The exercise with the Amphibious Ready Group was a great opportunity to demonstrate the integration and flexibility of NATO's maritime forces,” said Commodore Jeanette Morang (RNLN), Commander, SNMG1. “The diversity of assets available provides unique options to test and improve interoperability. This is what we mean with the NATO motto #StrongerTogether"
During the multinational training event, U.S. and SNMG1 maritime forces conducted cross-deck flight operations, maneuvering drills, a replenishment-at-sea interoperability, small boat personnel exchanges across all participating SNMG and ARG ships, simulated training scenarios, as well as a medical exchange and drill.
Together, the Kearsarge ARG-MEU operates in the Baltic region alongside NATO partners and Allies to demonstrate solidarity and maintain a high level of readiness.
The Kearsarge ARG and embarked 22nd MEU, under the command and control of Task Force 61/2, consists of the flagship of the ARG, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3); the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24); and the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44).
Embarked commands with the Kearsarge ARG include Amphibious Squadron SIX, 22nd MEU, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Fleet Surgical Team 4, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Naval Beach Group 2, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, and Beach Master Unit 2.
Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) is one of NATO’s two Maritime Immediate Reaction Forces. The Standing NATO Maritime Groups are a multinational, integrated maritime force made up of vessels from various allied countries. These vessels (including their helicopters) are permanently available to NATO to perform different tasks ranging from participating in exercises to actually intervening in operational missions.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our 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.
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