During the visit, Gen. Cavoli, NATO’s highest ranking operational commander, was briefed on STRIKFORNATO’s current and future exercises, initiatives, and enhanced peacetime vigilance activities, such as Formidable Shield 23 (FOSH 23), Baltic Operations 23 (BALTOPS 23) and Neptune Strike (NEST).
Witnessing the work our Alliance has accomplished during exercise Formidable Shield 2023 from here at STRIKFORNATO Headquarters has been truly impressive. FOSH, BALTOPS, and enhanced Vigilance Activities like Neptune Strike demonstrate NATO’s unparalleled cohesion while employing high-end capability through extremely challenging tactical scenarios in multinational, multi-domain battlespaces.
His visit comes during the execution phase of FOSH 23, a biennial integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) exercise, planned by US 6th Fleet and executed by STRIKFORNATO. Formidable Shield involves a series of live-fire events against subsonic, supersonic, and ballistic missile targets, incorporating multiple Allied ships, aircraft, and ground forces working across battlespaces from Northern Norway down to Western Scotland, highlighting NATO cohesion and capability while combining state-of-the-art technologies and warfighting skill.
General Christopher G. Cavoli, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and commander, U.S. European Command (EUCOM), signing the book of honour during his visit to STRIKFORNATO's headquarters.
FOSH began in 2015 when nine nations came together to showcase their newly developed capabilities and test interoperability amongst each other. The exercise tested the ability of one nation to utilize sensor and/or target information from a different nation’s platform to defend NATO with its own weapon system. Though it sounds simple on the surface, integrating multiple combat systems configurations and sharing tactics, techniques, and procedures can at times be challenging. This is why FOSH is the perfect venue to test and enhance these capabilities together.
Over the years, FOSH has continued to grow in complexity and scale, increasing nations, units, and geographic operating areas. FOSH23 featured a network that provided the commander of the multinational staff embarked aboard the exercise flagship at sea and here at the STRIKFORNATO HQ in Portugal with an overview of what the ships, aircraft and land forces were executing. Sometimes these forces were more than 1,000 nautical miles apart, high into the Arctic Circle and out to the western coast of Scotland. This shared network, then, provided situational awareness and enabled command and control over a vast, multi-domain battlespace. That same network provided maritime, air and ground-based weapon systems with high quality data, enabling them to neutralize a variety of simulated threats in Andøya, Norway and the Hebrides Range in Scotland.
This shared approach to exercises, activities, and operations, shines through in other STRIKFORNATO-led evolutions, including BALTOPS and the Neptune series. These three events integrate carrier strike groups, amphibious strike group, and high-end air and missile defense warfighting into Alliance operations, deterring aggression and supporting operational effects in support of the peace time vigilance areas managers at JFC Brunssum and JFC Norfolk.
Events like these in northern Europe, demonstrate the Alliance commitment to ensuring security and stability in this challenging and vital region of the world. The lessons FOSH participants learn while operating in the High North and into the Arctic Circle will pay dividends as many of them get ready to join BALTOPS, and for enduring operations throughout the theatre.
A decorated combat veteran and four-star Army general, Cavoli assumed duties as Supreme Allied Commander Europe at a turning point for transatlantic security, marked by rising strategic competition and the return of brutal conflict to the European continent. In the General’s words, “the close coordination between the U.S. and Europe has never been more important than today.”
Facing an ever-changing world, NATO, as the most unified and successful Alliance in History, is showing, once again, its pledge to the defence and stability of all its nations, a point emphasized by Gen. Cavoli in his discussions at STRIKFORNATO. Hence, the exercises, activities and daily operations conducted by STRIKFORNATO constitute an unshakable guarantee of NATO's commitment to collective security and a true demonstration of how stronger together Allied countries truly are.