Part one of a three-part Steadfast Defender exercise, ended near the coast of Portugal, May 30. Part one was a dynamic maritime multi-domain collective defense exercise led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, involving 19 ships from 11 allied nations and including more than 5,000 participants. Commander, Joint Force Command Norfolk, Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, in support of NATO, led this year’s Steadfast Defender 21. Steadfast Defender provides an excellent opportunity for the Allies to strengthen an already strong relationship by engaging in multi-domain, interoperability training.
Steadfast Defender 2021 is a three-part series of multilateral military exercises taking place in the Atlantic and Europe. Part one is the maritime component focused on trans-Atlantic reinforcements. Part two focuses on the enablement of Supreme Allied Commander Europe Area of Responsibility (SACEUR), military mobility and the deployment of the NATO Response Force. Part three consists of additional multinational training which includes the U.S.-led exercise Saber Guardian in Romania in which NATO allies and partner nations perform redeployment operations back to their home stations.
During part one, the Allies focused on the ability to reinforce Europe with troops and resources from North America while Europe faced a simulated maritime attack. The HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group conducted a scripted attack while NATO Navy assets simulated a defense. With a set defense, the Allies secured the sea lines of communication to deliver troops and resources on station on time. This simulation tested NATO’s adapted command structure and the unity and cooperation between North American and European NATO Allies. U.S. 2nd Fleet served as the Maritime Component Command in tactical control of assigned units during the exercise. Employing maritime forces, ready to fight, across multiple domains in the Atlantic to ensure access, deter aggression, and defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
This is the first time 2nd Fleet has acted as the MCC in a NATO-led joint multi-lateral exercise. Canadian Rear Adm. Steven Waddell, vice commander of 2nd Fleet, led the team embarked on MCC effort aboard the command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). There are several notable facts about STDE 21:
• The Maritime Air Operations Cell conducted more than 150 aircraft flights.
• Service members and assets from 11 NATO allied and partner nations were involved in the maritime live exercise.
• The MCC simulated Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) exercises against targets.
• Sixty-six staff members from 2nd Fleet embarked aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) in the Atlantic Ocean to command and control the exercise.