U.S. Second Fleet COMSECONDFLT
NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic COMSTRKFLTLANT
Joint Task Force 120
Joint Task Force 140
U.S. 2nd Fleet exercises operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and the North Atlantic. Additionally, it plans and conducts maritime, joint and combined operations as well as trains and recommends certification of combat ready naval forces for maritime employment and operations around the globe.
U.S. 2nd Fleet declared the command has achieved initial operational capability (IOC) 29 May 2019, less than one year after being established by senior military leaders. Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, made the announcement onboard Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, the waterfront homeport of many 2nd Fleet maritime assets.
“The North Atlantic has some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and with the opening of waterways in the Arctic, this traffic will only grow,” Lewis said. “This is a fact acknowledged by both our allies and competitors, and as such, it is critically important U.S. 2nd Fleet reinvigorates the way our forces are employed in this influential theater.”
In achieving IOC, the command has reached the capability to command and control forces assigned, as is expected of a numbered fleet, utilizing the functions and processes of the Maritime Operations Center and Maritime Headquarters. By focusing on the high-end training and employment of assigned assets, the new 2nd Fleet will be postured to support the employment of forces, whether that is on the Western side of the Atlantic, the Eastern side of the Atlantic, or up into the Arctic.
A few days after achieving IOC, the new Fleet led Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), marking the first time the Fleet will operate in the European theater, and leveraging increased lethality, interoperability and integrated warfighting capability with allies and partners in the region. “BALTOPS 2019 is our collective opportunity to promote peace and security through cooperation, collaboration, interoperability, and an unambiguous display of strength in the Baltic region,” Lewis said. “As an alliance, increasing our capabilities across all-domains as well as building a command-wide network will give us the ability to deter aggression and project stability.”
Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson, announced the re-establishment of U.S. 2nd Fleet during a change of command ceremony for Fleet Forces Command (USFF) in Norfolk, 04 May 2018. Second Fleet will exercise operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and northern Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, it will plan and conduct maritime, joint and combined operations and will train, certify and provide maritime forces to respond to global contingencies. Commander, 2nd Fleet will report to USFF. "Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we're back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex," said Richardson. "That's why today, we're standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic."
On 30 September 2011, Commander, US 2nd Fleet was disestablished and merged with US Fleet Forces Command. The disestablishment of US 2nd Fleet was announced on 6 January 2011, and was aligned with Department of Defense efforts to reduce overhead expenditures to protect force structure and invest in modernization. USFF would continue to provide the same level of performance and forces ready for tasking to combatant commanders.
The Commander, Second Fleet, under CINCLANTFLT, planned for, and when directed, conducted battle force operations in the Atlantic command in support of designated unified or allied commanders. The Commander, Second Fleet directed movements and exercises operational control of assigned units to carry out scheduled ocean transits and other special operations as directed by CINCLANTFLT in order to maximize fleet operational readiness torespond to contingencies in the Atlantic command area of operations. The Commander, Second Fleet also plans fleet intertype train-ing exercises and participates in joint and combined exercises as directed.
COMSECONDFLT has permanent assignment with NATO's Supreme Allied Command Atlantic's (SACLANT) chain-of-command, as the Commander Striking Fleet Atlantic. COMSTRIKFLTLANT commands a multinational force whose primary mission deters aggression, and protects NATO's Atlantic interests. Establishing and maintaining maritime superiority in the Atlantic, COMSTRIKFLTLANT ensures the integrity of NATO's sea-lines-of-communication. Countries contributing include: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The U.S. Second Fleet traces its origin to the reorganization of the Navy following World War II in December 1945 and the formation of the U.S. Eighth Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher. In January 1947, Eighth Fleet was renamed Second Task Fleet. Three years later, in February 1950, the command was redesignated U.S. Second Fleet.
In October 1962, President John F. Kennedy called on Second Fleet to establish quarantine during the Cuban Missile Crisis. For more than a month, Second Fleet units operated northeast of the island, intercepting and inspecting dozens of ships for contraband. Some twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan ordered COMSECONDFLT to the Caribbean again, but this time to lead the rescue of Americans on the island of Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury. Leading joint forces, COMSECONDFLT became Commander, Joint Task Force 120 (CJTF 120), and commanded units from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, COMSECONDFLT trained more than half of the Navy ships deployed to Southwest Asia.In times of crises and during certain exercises, Second Fleet becomes the Commander, Joint Task Force (120), one of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Joint Forces Command's joint commanders in the Atlantic theater. This joint task force consists of elements of the Atlantic Fleet, U.S. Army quick reaction airborne and air assault units, U.S. Air Force aircraft and support personnel, U.S. Marine Corps amphibious forces, and at times, designated units of the U.S. Coast Guard. When activated, Joint task Force 120 is tasked to execute a variety of contingency missions throughout the Joint Forces Command's area of responsibility. Second Fleet could also be ordered under certain contingencies in the Caribbean theater of operations to control similarly constructed forces as Joint Task Force 140.
Commander, Striking Fleet Atlantic (COMSTRIKFLTLANT) is the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic's major subordinate at-sea commander. As such, COMSTRIKFLTLANT commands a multinational force whose primary mission is to deter aggression by establishing and maintaining maritime superiority in the Atlantic. By serving its mission, COMSTRIKFLTLANT can ensure the integrity of NATO's sea lines of communication. The composition of the force can be tailored to manage crisis situations as they evolve, providing support to aviation forces, as well as amphibious and marine forces. The Striking Fleet is composed of forces contributed by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom and the United States. In wartime, this force would likely consist of three to four carrier battle groups, one or two anti-submarine task forces, an amphibious task force and about 22,000 Dutch, British and American marines. The Striking Fleet's potent mix of sea-control and power projection gives this force a unique ability to carry out its missions at sea and to directly support Allied Command Europe land and air operations as required. NATO exercises are conducted periodically to ensure the interoperability of forces under realistic environmental conditions. The multinational exercises also help strengthen command and control procedures.
In addition to training U.S. forces and conducting operations in the Atlantic area of responsibility, COMSECONDFLT has a permanent assignment within NATO's Supreme Allied Command Atlantic chain of command as Commander, Striking Fleet Atlantic. As such, Striking Fleet Atlantic, when assigned, commands a multinational force whose primary mission is to deploy a combined, joint task force to deter aggression and protect NATO interests. COMSTRIKFLTLANT (CSFL) works routinely with units and commands from all NATO nations.
To ensure allied forces operate effectively under realistic conditions, NATO exercises are conducted by CSFL at least once annually, and every U.S. Joint Task Force exercise includes some Allied participation and even NATO procedures. These exercises sharpen war-fighting skills and allow combined, joint forces to improve their ability for rapid deployment and employment of maritime, air and land forces. The exercises are based on generic scenarios and demonstrate alliance solidarity and strength as well as commitment to member nations.
CSFL is a fully integrated NATO headquarters staff, which numbers over 275 personnel. Included in this number are 28 multi-national officers from 12 NATO nations. They hold positions at various levels of the chain of command.
The staff is embarked aboard the command ship USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC/JCC 20). One of the most capable C41 platforms afloat today, MOUNT WHITNEY is a communications rich, readily deployable, mobile and sustainable headquarters platform which provides the embarked Commander with the long reach to lead assigned forces. Capable of accommodating up to 1410 personnel, her comprehensive NATO and US C3 suite has been progressively upgraded to meet the requirements of joint and combined command at the operational level. Using NATO-specific systems and procedures is a routine matter at CSFL. During a recent NATO exercise, the Joint Operations Center was converted from 80 percent U.S. C2 systems to 75 percent NATO systems in only seven days.
MOUNT WHITNEY fulfills multiple national and NATO tasking and serves as NATO's Sea-based Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) Headquarters platform. First proposed in 1994, NATO's CJTF Concept requires that a CJTF Commander and associated staff be capable of leading a CJTF composed of up to an army corps, NATO Expanded Task Force (NETF), comparably sized air forces and other components and forces. Three NATO Commands, Regional Command North, Regional Command South, and Striking Fleet Atlantic are designated as Parent CJTF HQs, tasked to have a trained, pre-designated core staff around which the CJTF HQ can be activated using augmentees drawn from an Alliance-wide pool. Only CSFL is designated as a Sea-based CJTF HQ, and USS MOUNT WHITNEY is identified as the HQ's prime command platform. Primarily designed for non-Article 5 Crisis Response Operations (CRO) outside Alliance territory (peace support, humanitarian relief, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, non-combatant evacuation), a key element of the concept is to develop a capability to integrate Partner and other non-NATO nations into Alliance-led crisis operations. A CJTF could also be an option for Article 5 operations.
Deployment of the MOUNT WHITNEY could be achieved in as little as 72 hours given the necessary political will. Embarkation of some critical augmentees would provide a comprehensive short-term command and planning capability during transit while the main staff augmentation could be embarked at virtually any available port en route to the crisis area. Her inherent mobility, readiness and ability to move easily from within sight of a shoreline to over the horizon make the MOUNT WHITNEY the ideal NATO, political, and CJTF Commander's headquarters of choice in a rapidly developing crisis situation.
On scene within days, and sustainable for months, the CJTF Commander is optimally poised to transfer ashore from the MOUNT WHITNEY upon provision of suitable host nation support and adequate force protection, if the situation is stable and the move politically desirable. The CSFL staff could, if required, also serve as a Maritime Component Commander, directing all associated maritime units in a contingency operation. In addition, both the Land Component Commander and a Joint Force Air Component Commander can be - and have been - embarked aboard MOUNT WHITNEY. A powerful and flexible Bi-Strategic Commander asset, MOUNT WHITNEY supports the needs of the Alliance and can be assigned to either SACLANT or SACEUR.
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