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Prepared Remarks from Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, Vice Adm. James G. Foggo III, at the Opening Ceremony for Exercise Phoenix Express

May 17, 2015 at 1:20 PM UTC
Summary:

Thank you, Vice Admiral Khamassi.

Commanding Officers and crews, fellow maritime professionals, Bonjour et Bienvenue àExercise Phoenix Express 2015. My sincere thanks to the people of Tunisia and the Tunisia Navy for hosting us here this year. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see Sailors from Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States all in one place – talk about your Global Network of Navies.

Thank you, Vice Admiral Khamassi.

Commanding Officers and crews, fellow maritime professionals, Bonjour et Bienvenue àExercise Phoenix Express 2015. My sincere thanks to the people of Tunisia and the Tunisia Navy for hosting us here this year. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see Sailors from Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States all in one place – talk about your Global Network of Navies.

Phoenix Express is an excellent opportunity to strengthen this network. We commit to Phoenix Express each year because we understand its importance and because we all share a common goal – improved interoperability while promoting regional stability and security; strengthening international military partnering; and fostering trust among forces and personnel of participating nations.

We do all of this so that we are ready to provide essential crises response in unstable and dynamic environments as one team. Because security environments can change very quickly, these types of multi-national training exercises have become increasingly more important. Our continued collective commitment to partnerships, to regional alliances, and to friendships will allow us to achieve a more secure future for each of our countries.

The Mediterranean is one of the oldest navigated waterways in the world. The free flow of energy and commerce fuels the economies of Europe, North Africa, and much of the world. This region, like a multitude of regions throughout the world, is not immune to instability.

Challenges include illicit trafficking, refugee flow across borders and the sea, and proliferation of both high-technology conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. If left unprotected, our seas become a place filled with the transit and exchange of illicit goods.

As commander of the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet, I am all too familiar with these challenges – and recognize they are not easy to solve, particularly because of the complex range of variables. But in the maritime, we can do our part – by being capable, responsive, and willing to step up, when needed.

This exercise seeks to embed those traits within each of our forces – as our watch standers and boarding teams react to a range of scenarios.
We also hope to see increased and improved communications and connectivity between our navies. The improvements will allow us all to combat real-world threats more expeditiously and more effectively.

This is the first year when we will not have a combined maritime operations center; and all of our MOCs will have to work together to achieve exercise goals and objectives. I look forward to seeing how our individual MOCs come together – I believe this multilateral effort will maximize partner participation and help us learn how to better access all available information on a threat or a vessel of interest.

This year’s planning efforts are led by Captain Bouabdallah from Tunisia and Captain Lamrani from Morocco. Thank you both for taking on leadership roles this year. Under your guidance, planners from participating nations fostered dialogue, shared ideas, and provided innovative solutions to common problems. The combined team determined operational areas and developed scenarios that mirror the challenges we face day in and day out – reinforcing our collective efforts to maintain safety and security in the Mediterranean.

These exchanges and forged relationships will pay dividends as we execute this exercise, and in operations to follow. Our North African partners are a key component to security in the Mediterranean – this is why Phoenix Express remains a pillar of our Express series.  Going forward, each of you will take on more responsibility in shaping the scope of this exercise, the layout of the forces, and the concept of operations.

For these reasons, I encourage everyone, regardless of rank or position, to take advantage of this training time to ask questions, provide feedback, and challenge the status-quo, if needed. We all have something to learn and teach. My team and I look forward to working and learning from each of you and we hope that you find this training impactful and worthwhile.

Lastly, Merci to all of you for your continued partnership, and merci for your commitment to see a safer and more secure Mediterranean Sea.
Sail safe.