Joint Force Command Norfolk Reaches Initial Operational Capability

 In Europe, UK, Russia, Spain, Canada, U.S. Navy, Norway, France, NATO

Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG-107) man the rails as the ship departs Haakonsvern, Norway, on Feb. 4, 2019. US Navy photo.

NATO’s Joint Force Command Norfolk has achieved ini­tial oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty, with plans to be fully oper­a­tional by the end of next year, the head of the com­mand said on Thursday.

Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, who serves both as the com­man­der of JFC Norfolk and the com­man­der of U.S. 2nd Fleet, during a call today with reporters empha­sized the need for deter­rence in the Atlantic.

“This is the first com­mand of its type within NATO,” Lewis said. “It’s the first com­mand on the con­ti­nent of North America that NATO has estab­lished in a long time.”

While Lewis leads JFC Norfolk, he noted that his deputy com­man­der is U.K. Royal Navy Rear Admiral Andrew Betton. The com­mand also includes three one-star lead­er­ship posi­tions held by one offi­cer from Denmark, one from France, and one from Norway, Lewis said. JFC Norfolk’s chief of staff will toggle between an offi­cer from Spain and Germany. Meanwhile, Lewis’ deputy for his 2nd Fleet com­mand is Canadian Rear Admiral Steve Waddell.

“JFC Norfolk will make our lives stronger and help defend North America as well as Europe, by pro­vid­ing con­tin­ued sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness across the North Atlantic, deter­ring aggres­sion, and if nec­es­sary, rising to defend our shared values,” Lewis said.
“We will aid [Supreme Allied Commander Europe] in devel­op­ing — in achiev­ing this 360-degree approach to the col­lec­tive defense of the allies,” he added. “We will both lead and con­tribute to NATO con­tin­gency plan­ning, active­ly par­tic­i­pate in multi-nation­al exer­cis­es, and devel­op a high readi­ness capa­bil­i­ty to respond in the event of an emer­gency crisis.”

In the next year, as it gears up for full oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty by the con­clu­sion of 2021, the com­mand will focus on an array of assign­ments from Supreme Allied Commander Europe, which Lewis said will include plan­ning for dif­fer­ent types of exer­cis­es.

Specifically, JFC Norfolk will strate­gize for and par­tic­i­pate in a NATO exer­cise called Steadfast Defender that is slated to take place next summer.

“There’s parts of that in the lead-up to the actual live exer­cise that will flex the task­ing that we need to have to be able to declare full oper­a­tional [capa­bil­i­ty],” Lewis said of the exer­cise.

Betton described Steadfast Defender as an exer­cise focused on moving forces through the Atlantic Ocean to con­ti­nen­tal Europe, as the United States and its allies could have to do in the event of a real-world emer­gency.

“For JFC Norfolk, it is large­ly about train­ing up the team here in the head­quar­ters so we can iden­ti­fy our short­falls, address those, and ensure that we are fully ready to declare full oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty later next year,” Betton said. “So it’s a multi-faceted thing.”

NATO estab­lished JFC Norfolk in July 2019, a little over one year after the United States reestab­lished 2nd Fleet as the Pentagon recal­cu­lat­ed its strat­e­gy due to Russia’s increased activ­i­ty in the North Atlantic.

Lewis said NATO has autho­rized both a new strat­e­gy and an exe­cu­tion of that strat­e­gy, known as “Deterrence and Defense of the Euro-Atlantic Region.” But the specifics of the strat­e­gy are under clas­si­fi­ca­tion, accord­ing to Lewis.

“We’re in … lock­step right now in plan­ning toward imple­men­ta­tion of that strat­e­gy and what that oper­a­tional con­cept looks like,” Lewis said. “In fact, there’s a commander’s con­fer­ence in about a week and a half’s time and that’s the main topic of the commander’s con­fer­ence. And we have sub­mit­ted our approach to that from this com­mand already.”

USNI source|articles

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