Phoenix Express is an at-sea exercise designed to improve cooperation on maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea. Representatives from North African and Southern European countries and the U.S. practice tactics and share techniques. Here’s a brief introduction:
1) This is the seventh time Phoenix Express has occurred. (Check out one story from Phoenix Express 2011.)
2) The exercise this spring runs from May 7 to May 30, 2012.
4) Representatives from 11 countries are participating or observing this time: Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and United States.
5) The exercise is packed with learning and sharing. Scenarios involve search and rescue, boarding drills, communication drills and information management techniques. Workshops will also be held on such topics as operations and safety, damage control and firefighting, deck seamanship, navigation, small boat operations and leadership, and more.
6) Why is the U.S. participating? One part of the overall strategy of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) is to enhance regional stability by strengthening maritime partnerships. As General Ham, AFRICOM commander, wrote in his 2012 Posture Statement, “Our objectives for maritime security include developing maritime domain awareness, increasing response capabilities, and fostering regional integration and cooperation.”
7) The guided-missile frigate USS Simpson is part of the exercise.
8) A portion of the exercise will be held at NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation Center in Souda Bay, Greece. The center was established in 2003 to focus on Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) training.
9) The exercise offers the opportunity to learn before real-life situations occur. “One of the biggest obstacles we encountered was the language barrier,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Brenton Paulk, a staff instructor from Rota, Spain. “It’s something we are learning to overcome during our training, and I think learning how to interact with other nations will be helpful during real-world maritime interdiction operation.” (Read more: “PE12 Continues Multinational Training, Promotes Teamwork“)
10) Phoenix Express 2012 also includes a medical component. U.S. medical personnel from the U.S. Army Reserve 396th Combat Support Hospital shared techniques such as applying tourniquets.
View photos on Flickr: