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News | Sept. 24, 2020

U.S. 4th Fleet, Ecuador Navy Prepare for Multinational UNITAS Exercise

By U.S. Fourth Fleet Public Affairs Office

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet and Ecuadorian Navy maritime planners are conducting a virtual Final Planning Conference (FPC) Sept. 22-25 in support of the upcoming UNITAS LXI exercise, scheduled for Nov. 2-11 in Ecuador.

Rear Adm. Daniel Ginez, Commander, Naval Operations and First Naval Zone, Ecuadorian Navy and Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, opened the conference on Sept. 22, thanking participants for their commitment to building a successful proposed schedule of events.

More than 60 planners from 11 partner nations, including representatives from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army are participating in this week’s conference.  The virtual conference will finalize the UNITAS LXI concept of operations, complete the tentative schedule of events, and finalize assigned roles and responsibilities.

“It has been quite a journey during the planning conferences (to date), in which we entered a new era where computers became the main support to the meetings and planning to reach the schedule of activities.” said Ginez

UNITAS LXI is scheduled to have multiple underway events to include maneuvering exercises advancing to coordinated warfare events and culminating with a multi-threat, multi-day scenario that allows participants to work together as a multinational force. Additionally, several live-fire events are scheduled for UNITAS LXI, to include a sinking exercise (SINKEX). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be not be any of the traditional inport events.

“This is the team that will come together and we will celebrate our friendship and our partnership in a meaningful way to demonstrate our commitment to the world in working together… I’m grateful for all of the hard work of every person, of every partner, of every leader and every country to come to this point.” said Gabrielson.

UNITAS, Latin for “unity”, is the longest-running, multi-national maritime exercise in the world. Conceived in 1959, UNITAS I took place in 1960. UNITAS LXI will focus on interoperability at sea with warfighting exercises, to include live-fire events, that work up to a multi-day scenario phase where participating forces come together to operate as a multi-national force.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.

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