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NNS021010-06 Naval Forces Participate in Exercise Destined Glory 2002

Release Date: 10/10/2002 11:28:00 AM

By Chief Journalist (SW) Jason Chudy, Navy Region Europe Public Affairs

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- More than 5,000 crewmembers from USS George Washington (CVN 73), Carrier Air Wing 17 and four other Navy ships are currently taking part in NATO exercise Destined Glory 2002 off the western and southern coasts of Italy.

Destined Glory runs through Oct. 15 and includes Naval, air and land forces totaling 61 ships, 100 aircraft and more than 8,000 personnel from 12 nations. It is NATO's largest Mediterranean amphibious exercise.

"Any time U.S. forces have the opportunity to operate with our NATO allies in a multinational environment . it not only enhances our own inherent capability but enhances our ability to work in a coalition," said Vice Adm. Scott Fry, who serves as the commander of NATO's Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe and the U.S. Sixth Fleet. "The real benefit of NATO forces exercising together is the ability to rapidly bring these forces together when required to go to sea in real-world operations."

From Spanish landing ship Castilla's bridge on the day of the exercise's kickoff, French, British and Spanish warships were spread out through Naples Bay, including the aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal and Spanish Principe de Asturias. The ships were in port for a pre-sail brief then headed back into the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas at the end of the weekend.

The warships are operating in a number of different battle groups. One multinational amphibious task force is sailing to a landing site at Capo Teulada in southern Sardinia and another near Monte Romano north of Rome. Once ashore, the forces will conduct live fire exercises at nearby ranges.

Fry said that Destined Glory 2002 has been in the planning phase for about a year.

"I cannot over-emphasize the complexity of this exercise," he said during a press conference on Castilla. "Not only are we bringing together Navy, Air force and Army units to create a joint force, but we are doing this with 12 different nations."

Destined Glory is an annual exercise in its sixth year. Last year's exercise was cut short when some of the participating units were reassigned to the eastern Mediterranean in support of NATO's invoking its mutual defense article after the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S.

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