French Destroyer Forbin Joins Kearsarge ESG
By Petty Officer 1st Class Phil Beaufort
Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn Public Affairs
Mar 28, 2011 — Commander Jean-Mathieu Rey, commanding officer of the French ship FS Forbin (D 620), and several crew members made a visit to the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) while off the coast of Libya March 26, 2011.
The French ship joined Joint Task Force (JTF) Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector last week after recently completing a four-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf.
Captain Baxter Goodly, Kearsarge commanding officer, said the captain of Forbin and his staff came to get a better understanding of their joint capabilities.
"We were able to talk about their capabilities, and ours, so that as we work together to enforce U.N. Resolution 1973, all the coalition partners have a good understanding of what they bring to the table and as a coalition we can better support whatever tasking we are given," said Goodly.
Captain Dan Shaffer, commander of the Destroyer Squadron 60, currently embarked aboard Kearsarge, said the destroyer Forbin has been working with air controllers on Kearsarge to help control the air space in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
"The beauty of working with Forbin is she's been working in a coalition environment pretty much her entire life," said Shaffer. "She was commissioned last October and since then has worked with a U.S. Carrier Strike Group in the Arabian Gulf and now here with Expeditionary Strike Group Five off the coast of Libya. So she was able to fit in seamlessly into the organization that we've had put together and she was able to work interchangeably with other ships, like USS Barry (DDG 52)."
Rey said having the opportunity to meet with his counterparts and some of the senior leadership in this operation will only enhance the ability of his crew to support the operation.
"We had this meeting to increase our ability to exchange information and to work with more efficiency," said Rey. "The challenge is being able to gather and exchange information in a coherent fashion, and to ensure we share the same situational awareness of the operation. Also, we need to establish what our military goals are. Once that has all been determined, we can then act in concert to achieve our objectives."
According to Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Five, Rear Admiral Peg Klein, the combined staffs were able to accomplish a lot in a short visit.
"We had an outstanding visit by the captain of FS Forbin," Klein said. "We discussed our mutual support of the three core tasks in the UN resolution: Enforce arms embargo at sea, implement a No Fly Zone and protect people of Libya. Forbin has been an outstanding partner, as we all work to enforce the naval embargo."
With its advanced anti-air capability and well trained crew, Klein added that Forbin is a real asset to the mission.
"Forbin has taught us much about working with our coalition partners," said Klein. "They have been very flexible performing tasks, such as controlling our aircraft, checking aircraft in and out of our airspace, and providing extra protection from possible air threats. We have become more capable and flexible as a result of our work with Forbin."
Captain Peter Pagano, commander of Amphibious Squadron Four, said that the entire JTF is benefiting from working with foreign military services.
"The advantages of working in a coalition environment, in the context of Operation Odyssey Dawn, is that it allows each of the components to bring their own capabilities and specialties together in a complementary fashion," said Pagano. "The sum is greater than the individual parts. Each ship, each navy, and each task group brings certain capabilities, and when those parts are merged together in this coalition environment you have a tremendous capability that builds on the strengths of those partner nations."
Pagano also said working with partners who are indigenous to the area only bolsters the cause.
"It is always helpful to have neighboring nations whose navies are deployed in the area and operate here on a regular basis; it always brings benefits to the situation," said Pagano.
Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nation Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadahfi regime forces. JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel L. Locklear, III.
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