MANTA, Ecuador –
Naval forces from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, and the United States commenced UNITAS LXI, an annual multinational exercise, Nov. 2 in Manta, Ecuador.
This year's exercise is hosted by the Ecuadorian Navy and will include 13 warships, which will conduct operations in the Pacific Ocean through Nov. 11.
Ecuadorian Navy Rear Adm. Diego Sosa, Chief of Staff of Naval Operations for the Ecuadorian Navy, will serve as Commander Task Force 401, the Combined Task Force (CTF) that executes the UNITAS exercise. U.S. maritime forces will be under the operational control of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 138, Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet.
During opening ceremonies Gabrielson, who delivered remarks virtually, told participating forces, “Welcome to the 61st UNITAS, graciously hosted by Ecuador. We embrace this opportunity to come together, united as one fighting force—a team ready to defend our strategic and shared interests.“
Participating U.S. forces include: USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), USNS Burlington (T-EPF-10), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 Detachment 9, Patrol Squadron (VP) 9, Patrol Squadron (VP) 26, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare (WMEC 912), U.S. Army Vessel Chickahominy (LCU 2011), U.S. Air Force Aircraft, and staff members from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40, U.S Marine Corps Forces South (MARFORSOUTH), and U.S. 4th Fleet (FOURTHFLT).
UNITAS is designed to train each navy to conduct joint naval operations through the execution of littoral warfare, maritime interdiction operations, countering transnational organized crime, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, communications exercises, and air and amphibious operations in order to increase interoperability and capability between participating naval and marine forces.
UNITAS, which is Latin for “unity,” was conceived in 1959, first executed in 1960 and has been held every year since. This year marks the first time in approximately 20 years that Ecuador has hosted the exercise and the 61st iteration of the world’s longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise.
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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