Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) marked the completion of enhanced vigilance activity Neptune Strike 2023-2 (NEST 23-2).
Since kickoff on July 10, 23 ships, over 100 aircraft, and more than 7,000 servicemembers from 15 NATO Allied and partner nations demonstrated deterrence and assurance through thesuccessful execution of a broad spectrum of sea, air, and land activities throughout NATO’s area of responsibility.
“These NATO high-end multi-domain warfare capabilities show the world the true strength of the Alliance,” said Vice Adm. Thomas Ishee, commander of both STRIKFORNATO and U.S. Sixth Fleet. “The Neptune Series consistently showcases the unmatched cohesion and capacity of our Alliance in deterring potential adversaries and defending our nations if called upon.”
NEST 23-2 is the latest iteration of the Project Neptune series, and the second of 2023. The activity marks the continued evolution of the concept, which combines military forces from across NATO Allies and partners in a demonstration of NATO’s commitment to defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area.
The latest iteration of NEST also included multiple unique and noteworthy developments, including special operations forces maritime integration, NATO Land Command (LANDCOM)‘s first physical inclusion through the integration of Multinational Corps-Northeast (MNC-NE) elements, and the transfer of authority (TOA) of the French FREMM frigate FS Languedoc to STRIKFORNATO command and control.
“Joining the vigilance activity Neptune Strike 23.2 has been a great experience for the crew of the Languedoc,” said Captain Laurent Saunois, commanding officer of Languedoc. “We have strengthened the ties with our NATO partners, especially from the USA and Italy, developing our interoperability and our mutual knowledge, and sharing common procedures. These five days of mutual activities have enhanced our combat readiness and shown the cohesion of the Alliance.”
Joining Languedoc in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas were the U.S. Navy’s Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and its associated carrier strike group, the Italian Navy aircraft carrier ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi, and other naval units from Albania, Croatia, and NATO Maritime Command’s Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 2. Garibaldi served as flagship for NEST 23.2, embarking a command element from STRIKFORNATO headquarters, providing distributed, disaggregated, and resilient command and control options across the force.
“It has been an honour for me to operate at sea with all participating Nations, and witness their outstanding performance,” referred Admiral Giacinto Sciandra, Commander of Italian Carrier Strike Group. “The professionalism and commitment, demonstrated throughout the activity, is and always will be at the core of our success. Neptune Strike has permitted us to further consolidate the Italian Navy role into the NATO maritime structure, contributing to strengthen one of the core tasks of deterrence and defence to NATO’s overall strategic concept.”
Meanwhile, in the Baltic Sea, U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), Swedish Navy Visby-class corvette HSwMS Härnösand (K 33), and SNMG 1 units conducted enhanced vigilance activities on NATO’s Northern Flank.
Allied commands enacted an accelerated crisis planning and approval process through NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) during NEST 23-2, as well. This rapid response was spearheaded by multiple Allied Joint Force Commands and tested their ability to generate effects for supporting forces to conduct simulated strike missions on targets across the region, faster than in any previous iteration.
In total, Allies and partners completed 32 enhanced vigilance activities across Europe, consisting of 105 aircraft sorties and dual-carrier strike operations. NEST 23-2 proved that NATO has both the resolve and technical capabilities to answer any threat, anywhere, at any time.
“While the numbers are truly impressive, the successful execution of NEST 23.2 represents the determination of NATO as one alliance to defend all of its member states through advanced capabilities,” said Rear Admiral James Morley, STRIKFORNATO’s Deputy Commander. “Our ability to plan and execute as a cohesive team in a condensed timeline and across multiple domains and joint defense areas demonstrates the continued evolution of this series of enhanced vigilance activities.”
Enhanced vigilance activities are deliberately planned, dynamically executed activities, occurring in all domains and across SACEUR’s area of responsibility, to ensure appropriate strategic awareness and force readiness required to sustain peace.
STRIKFORNATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations.