For the first time in NATO history, Italy transfers the authority of a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to NATO. Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) will execute the command and control of the ITS CAVOUR CSG between 27-31 May 2022. STRIKFORNATO is currently conducting the vigilance activity NEPTUNE SHIELD 2022 (NESH22), which integrates high-end maritime expeditionary strike capabilities of Sea, Air and Land assets. The activities take place in the Baltic, Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, from 17-31 May. During NESH22, STRIKFORNATO conducts the handover of command and control of the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and the Combined Task Force 61/2, which includes the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) from U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) to STRIKFORNATO and the wider Alliance.
“NEPTUNE SHIELD is a great opportunity to integrate an Italian carrier strike group into Alliance operations,” said, Rear Adm. James Morley, deputy commander, STRIKFORNATO. “This removes artificial seams between the maritime and air domains, and exposes tactical operators to the power of the multinational network training as we would fight-as a simple team.”
The CAVOUR operates an embarked air wing with AV8B’s and F35B’s, these provided by both Italian Navy and Air Force under tactical command of the CSG. Early this year, ITS CAVOUR CSG participated in NEPTUNE STRIKE vigilance activity that took place in the Adriatic Sea, and involved missions at sea and in the air across most of Europe, supporting both Allied Joint Force Command Naples and Brunssum. On 13 May, STRIKFORNATO participated as NATO Headquarters during the Italian Navy National Exercise MARE APERTO 22-1 involving the ITS CAVOUR CSG. The CSG Units trained on NATO procedures, communications and policy in order to better prepare the ships, aircraft and staff for future NATO activities.
This exercise allowed the ITS CAVOUR – and ITMARFOR staff in preparation of NRF 24 – to utilize NATO systems and structure to train and rehearse working within the greater NATO Alliance. It also provided important training for the STRIKFORNATO staff in their interaction with Allied Nations’ CSGs in high-end training scenarios across the spectrum of crisis. Events like these help strengthen the NATO Alliance as well as the relationships with partner nations, validating the seven decades of Alliance interoperability, cohesiveness and commitment to collective defence. STRIKFORNATO 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.