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NMIOTC Forges Understanding in Phoenix Express 2008

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080410-06
Release Date: 4/10/2008 3:38:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Coleman Thompson, Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group Public Affairs

SOUDA BAY, Crete (NNS) -- The North American Treaty Organization's (NATO) Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre (NMIOTC) is proving to be the meeting ground for several service members from different nations as they work together to improve maritime interdiction operations (MIO) capabilities during Exercise Phoenix Express 2008 (PE 08).

PE 08 is broken up into two large phases inport and at-sea. The inport multilateral training focuses primarily on MIO boarding techniques and shipboard training. With a mission dedicated to the combined training for NATO MIO teams, the newly opened and NATO-certified NMIOTC is quickly becoming a focal point for PE 08's inport training sessions.

"The mission of our center is to conduct training necessary for NATO forces to better execute surface, sub-surface and aerial surveillance and special operational activities in support of maritime interdiction operations," said Hellenic Navy Commodore Konstantine Ifantis, commanding officer, NMIOTC. "We are sure the NMIOTC will become a very useful tool to the alliance."

The center, recently certified by NATO on April 2, offers classroom training to the participants, as well as simulator training and practical exercises. Throughout the courses, students can learn small boat handling, small arms training and proper container inspection.

"The global security environment has led the alliance to seek new capabilities and define new training requirements. The alliance, recognizing this, decided that Greece would assume the responsibilities as host nation and establish the NMIOTC," said Ifantis. "The center has the potential to not only train Naval units in MIO, but also to provide proposals for new doctrines, tactics, methods and equipment in this growing field of maritime security operations."

The day's training session saw Sailors and Marines from different nations and backgrounds training together on one training ground as a single unit. Ultimately, this highlights one of the prime benefits the center offers: servicemembers from several nations coming together to better their training, tactics and procedures as a whole.

"It's a good learning experience, you get to learn what others know from the experiences that they have in their countries or other countries that they have had experience dealing with in their combat situations," said Marine Corps Cpl. John Young, squad leader for the Supreme Allied Command's Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (SACFAST), 6th Platoon. "So we get to learn from them and they get to learn from us. You get different points of view of what might happen in certain situations."

PE 08 is a two-week long exercise designed to strengthen regional maritime partnerships, and is focused on the development of increased maritime domain awareness, better information sharing practices and the ability to operate jointly.

Exercises like PE 08 enable participants to advance information sharing which is crucial to maintaining a region free from transnational threats, as well as enhancing the capability to conduct multinational peacekeeping missions.

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