US Navy exercises with Europeans, North Africans

US Africa Command’s General William “Kip” Ward visited Exercise Phoenix Express 09 on Friday as maritime and land forces from 14 European and North Africa countries participated in a multinational exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.
The two-week exercise, designed to strengthen regional maritime partnerships, is aimed at enhancing stability in the region, according to officials with US Naval Forces Africa – Commander, US 6th Fleet, Africom reports.
“Exercise Phoenix Express 2009 aims to improve maritime security in the Mediterranean Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies from the United States, Africa and Europe,” said US Navy Captain Red Smith, Commander, Task Force 68, the US Navy task force in command of the exercise.
“Phoenix Express demonstrates U.S. and partner nation commitment to regional stability and maritime security,” added Smith.

During this exercise, sailors are becoming familiar with each others’ navies, operating procedures and practices. When they meet in the future to conduct peacekeeping, humanitarian operations, or to counter trafficking in drugs, weapons, or persons, they will be better able to work together.

Countries involved are United States, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Italy, France, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Croatia, Libya, and Senegal.

During his one-day visit to the exercise, Ward, the commander of US Africa Command, spoke to an estimated 100 guests and crew of USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) during its change of command ceremony. Commander Clinton A. Carroll relinquishing command to Commander Tim Sparks.
“When I was asked to be the guest speaker at Clint and Tim`s change of command, I jumped at the opportunity,” Ward said. “Now you would think that after 38 years of service, I would have done all my ‘firsts’ already. Well, this is another first for me, doing a change of command on a ship. It highlights the joint nature of our business, and I am pleased to be here watching the mantel of leadership change hands in the time honored naval tradition.”