Standing Naval Forces Atlantic
[STANAVFORLANT / SNFL]
NATO maintains standing maritime Immediate Reaction Forces in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. NATO's Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) is the world's first permanent peacetime multinational naval squadron. STANAVFORLANT was established in January 1968. Flying the NATO flag continuously for over 30 years, some 150,000 men and women have served aboard 600 STANAVFORLANT ships. Each year the Force steams more than 50,000 miles, participating in a series of scheduled NATO and national exercises and making goodwill visits.
Under the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT), headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, it is an immediately available reaction force which can rapidly respond to a crisis, establishing Alliance presence and resolve. Its permanent readiness demonstrates the solidarity and vigilance of the NATO Alliance while constantly developing multinational maritime skills and tactics. This Force is under the operational command of the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) and under the operational control of the Commander-in-Chief Eastern Atlantic (CINCEASTLANT), the Commander-in-Chief Iberian Atlantic (CINCIBERLANT) or the Commander-in-Chief Western Atlantic (CINCWESTLANT) depending upon the operating area.
From six to ten ships (destroyers, frigates and tankers) are normally attached to the Force for up to six months, and Force command rotates on an annual basis among the nations contributing ships to STANAVFORLANT. The standing force in the Atlantic of destroyers and frigates has air defense, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare capabilities. Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States are the five permanent contributors to the standing force. In addition, STANAVFORLANT's strength can be augmented by units from Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Norway and Spain for short periods of time. Personnel are routinely exchanged between STANAVFORLANT ships.
During the Cold War STANAVFORLANT was normally positioned off the northwestern coast of Europe, tasked to defend the north Atlantic. Prior to 1993, STANAVFORLANT ships spent most of their time conducting training exercises in the Atlantic. The conflict in the republics of former-Yugoslavia, and the call from the United Nations to enforce sanctions against them, changed that. Ships moved into the Adriatic Sea for Operation Sharp Guard in June 1993, and continued to successfully accomplish the force's first response to a contingency.
STANAVFORLANT was integrated from July 21, 1993, into a Combined Task Force together with the ships of the Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED) and the Western European Union Naval Force (WEUCONMARFOR), conducting Operation "Sharp Guard" in the Adriatic Sea. Together they monitored and enforced compliance, with United Nations Security Council resolutions that prevented unauthorized shipping from entering territorial waters of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and all arms from entering former Yugoslavia.
With the expectation of the arms embargo being lifted in June, STANAVFORLANT departed from the Adriatic on May 15, 1996, to return to the Force's more traditional role as an Immediate Reaction Force in the Atlantic. Since then, the Force has carried out a scheduled program of NATO and national exercises, individual force training and port visits designed to maintain readiness, foster interoperability and serve as the embodiment of the "Trans-Atlantic-Link."
When the U.N. resolutions were lifted in 1996, STANAVFORLANT left the Mediterranean to support the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force East (JIATFE) counter-drug detection and monitoring operation in the Atlantic. STANAVFORLANT has been operating in the Western Hemisphere. They participated in counter drug operations in the Caribbean supporting Joint Inter Agency Task Force East. They have also had port visits in Cartagena, Colombia and Puerto Rico.
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