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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 627-04
July 01, 2004

Allied Countries Join Forces in Maritime Exercise

Ten allied countries will participate in a multinational exercise off the coast of Morocco to show the combined force capabilities and quick response times of the participating naval, air, undersea and surface warfare groups from July 1116.

The U.S.led exercise aims to enhance interoperability between all ten nations complex naval and air operations while fostering stronger military-to-military relationships for the future.

MEDSHARK/Majestic Eagle 04 (MS/ME04), will use a NATO command-and-control structure under the direction of Striking and Support Forces NATO located in Naples, Italy and approximately 20,000 personnel operating aboard more than 20 ships and submarines and numerous aircraft. MS/ME04 is the culmination of the U.S. Navy Summer Pulse 04, which has seven carriers operating in five theaters to demonstrate the Fleet Response Plan (FRP). FRP is a Navy transformational construct which ensures US leadership can call on up to eight carriers for tasking in a national emergency.

Morocco is the host nation for MS/ME 04. In addition to Morocco and United States, other countries contributing to the exercise are: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Greek military officials will actively observe the exercise.

Vice Adm. Harry Ulrich, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Striking and Support Forces NATO, will command all military forces in the exercise.

In this exercise, allied nations will work side-by-side in a realistic and challenging training environment, said Ulrich. This is a rare opportunity for a coalition of maritime forces to refine the complex skills necessary to prepare for and conduct integrated operations with multiple aircraft carriers and other vessels. MEDSHARK/Majestic Eagle 04 will truly demonstrate the collective powers and versatility of our combined NATO maritime forces.

The United States Navy will have eight surface ships participating: two aircraft carriers; two Aegis cruisers; one Aegis destroyer; one command ship; one submarine tender and one fast combat support ship. Three U.S. submarines and two maritime patrol P-3 Orion aircraft will also be part of the exercise. U.S. Air Forces Europe will provide seven tanker aircraft during the exercise for fueling needs. The Norfolk-based carriers USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) pulsed to play a part in MS/ME04.

Morocco and the other countries are contributing many assets to the exercise: Morocco itself will provide not only two frigates and nearly twenty aircraft, but also will lend access to its Cap Draa training area near Tan-Tan in the southwest region of the country. Allied aircraft and ships from all the participating nations will be using the area to conduct live-fire training. Morocco has dedicated military personnel to ensure safety and security at and near Cap Draa. Altogether, about 750 members of the Moroccan armed forces will take part in the valuable training activities of MS/ME04.

Other countries adding to the NATO architecture include France, which is contributing one destroyer; Italy, participating with an aircraft carrier and one destroyer; Portugal will be using one of its submarines plus flying five F-16 aircraft and one P-3P maritime patrol aircraft; Spain will provide another aircraft carrier plus one Aegis frigate and two fast patrol boats; the Spanish Marine Corps forward air control team and the Spanish Air Force with 15 aircraft will both participate. In addition, the Spanish military will also provide access to Moron Air Force Base as well as Gando Air Force Base on Grand Canary Island, as sites for multiple aircraft to provide logistical support to the carrier groups at sea.

Turkey is supporting the exercise with one frigate; additional frigates from Germany, Netherlands and Portugal will be provided by NATOs Standing Naval Forces Atlantic, along with an NATO AWACs; finally, the United Kingdom will provide a number of Royal Navy liaison officers working aboard an aircraft carrier in the central-Atlantic to demonstrate the capability of NATO to coordinate operations even over large geographical distances.

The staff of Striking and Support Forces NATO has led the planning effort for the exercise, along with planners from the U.S. Sixth Fleet, the participating countries, and NATOs Standing Naval Forces Atlantic.

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