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Since the end of the Cold War, the Mediterranean region of wars, crises and tensions plagued that challenge especially Europe and the European Union (EU) and NATO. A crucial role in maritime security in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic plays the US 6th Fleet.

The Mediterranean encompasses the Mediterranean, in the run the seaward boundaries of the EU and the NATO southern flank - with its adjacent waters, the Black Sea and the Red Sea. Four maritime key positions (choke points) of seestrategischer meaning control the international shipping traffic in the Mediterranean: the Strait of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, the Dardanelles and the Strait of Hormuz. In the broadest sense also includes the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf as "hot spots" to do so. North Africa and the Levant are the security policy opposite coast to Europe in the Mediterranean.

Currently multiple threats go from the crisis arc stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to the Indian Ocean, of: civil wars, armed conflicts, terrorism, organized crime, drug and human and arms smuggling, piracy and a torrential outpouring of migrants.

The US 6th Fleet

(Graphics US Navy)

The US 6th Fleet is part of the great military association United States Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF). The main base of the fleet is located in Gaeta / Italy and headquartered in Naples. Your competence and responsibilities include the Mediterranean region and the entire eastern Atlantic Ocean, from the North Pole to the Barents Sea, the North Sea and Baltic Sea to the southeastern Atlantic Ocean with Antarctica and the Southern Indian Ozean.Zur 6th fleet includes about 45 ships, about 180 aircraft and 21,000 soldiers.

The US 6th Fleet guaranteed in their wide-ranging field of application security and stability through its presence and especially regular participation in multinational and NATO major maneuvers, exercises and backup operations. These include the NATO operation "Sea Guardian" exercise "Phoenix Express" or the annual anti-submarine maneuvers "Noble Manta" NATO in the Mediterranean. In the eastern Atlantic region it include the annual NATO United maneuver "Trident Juncture" or baltops operations in the Baltic region, the US fleet were carried out this year, together with the second. In the Gulf of Guinea / West Africa, the exercise series "Obangame Express" will be held annually in conjunction with West African navies. Since 2014, the German Marine involved in this multinational naval exercises. Finally, the 6th Fleet is also involved in East African waters where occur include the annual multinational exercise series "Exercise Cutlass Express".

Black Sea

The Black Sea (436,400 square kilometers), slightly larger than the Baltic Sea (412,500 square kilometers) through the Caucasus 2008 war (including Russian naval blockade against Georgia) and in particular by Russia's annexation of the Crimea in 2014, the unresolved conflict in eastern Ukraine and currently on the won ukrainian-Russian dispute over territorial waters in the sea of ​​Azov security policy significance. Ukraine and Georgia are striving alongside their independence from Russia becoming a member of EU and NATO on what it is trying to prevent Russia in the future. Georgia is already a member of the euro Europe. The country receives from the United States for years military aid (training and equipment). The United States sees Georgia inter alia, a geo-strategic bridgehead, which reaches up to Central Asia and Iran. Ukraine is a candidate for accession to the EU and NATO since of 2004.

The afflicted by tensions, crises and war Mittelmerraum (Graphic: mawibo)

In addition, the access roads are subject to the Black Sea special security provisions. So the Treaty of Montreux (Straits Agreement) governs from 1936 to shipping through the Dardanelles. While merchant ships in peacetime international shipping route can be used at any time and without hindrance, not to the residents of the Black Sea include special rules apply to warships of states. Under the agreement Turkey shall exercise full sovereignty over the Dardanelles, the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Bosphorus, whose Schifffahrtweg m wide at its narrowest point only 700th Warships have to log in peacetime their passage about eight days earlier in Turkey. The tonnage of individual warships allowed 10,000 t not exceed warships happen simultaneously, may be 15,000 t is not exceeded, and they are allowed to stay only 21 days in the Black Sea. Submarines and aircraft carriers may not pass through the Straits in general. In the past there have been repeated dispute over the interpretation of the Treaty concerning the transit of heavy US warships or Russian aircraft cruiser. In the Caucasus conflict in 2008 Turkey refused US warships passage into the Black Sea, because the allowed total tonnage had been exceeded.

The BMD destroyer USS "Carney" in the Black Sea

However, units of the 6th Fleet operate regularly in the Black Sea, where they lead multi-national naval exercise with the Romanian and Bulgarian Navy and the Ukrainian Navy through. There are the maneuvers series "Sea Shield" with the Romanian Navy and the 1997 annual multinational maneuvers "Sea Breeze" with Ukraine. "Sea Breeze 2019" participating with 19 countries (Denmark, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, United States and Ukraine) has impressively the ability of the 6th fleet illustrated to work together with partner navies in a conflict-ridden sea for security and stability.

ES & T had to ask some questions before this background the opportunity of Befehlshaberin the US 6th Fleet, Vice Admiral Liza M. Franchetti.
Vice Admiral Liza M Franchetti (Photos: US Navy)

ES & T: Admiral Franchetti, the Mediterranean constitutes a crisis and tension area, which inter alia Europe's security at risk. What special role does the US 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean?

Franchetti: As an operating arm of the US Navy in Europe and Africa, the US 6th fleet operates in all marginal seas and oceans - Atlantic, Baltic, Mediterranean, Black Sea and around Africa - to combat terrorism and illegal activities, surveillance and reconnaissance and to ensure the freedom of sea routes (freedom of navigation) to ensure the widest sense. Our presence in the Mediterranean presents a more than 70-year tradition of security policy responsibilities and obligations in this important region of the world. We are working with NATO and all the navies of the countries bordering closely to be able to create any time a common and current maritime situational awareness and our ability to cooperate at sea in all areas to strengthen the naval warfare. From the Mediterranean region we have far-reaching influence - we fight terrorist organizations and extremists in Libya, supporting the operation "Inherent Resolution" (Clash of the United States against the terrorist militias of the Islamic State), the Chemical Weapons arsenals to fight in Syria, to ensure the protection against ballistic missiles ( Ballistic Missile Defense) in Europe, humanitarian disaster relief, as well as a variety of other afford relief operations in the maritime sector.

ES & T: What are the greatest security challenges in the Mediterranean?

The frigate "Hessen" was integrated into a US aircraft carrier battle group 2018th

Franchetti: The Mediterranean has always been a dichtgebündeltes maritime shipping network with multiple threats from the coasts of shows - every day. I see myself in the middle of the Mediterranean region and look over 360 ° of challenges. In the south we have instability in the form of terrorism, extremism, arms and human trafficking, smuggling and migration, which are increasingly affecting Europe. In the east there is a permanent conflict with Syria, there is an increasing presence of Russian coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCM) and Russian naval forces that operate between the Black Sea and the naval base of Tartus / Syria. We also worried Iran's ballistic missile program and Iranian naval forces representative operating in these areas. In the eastern Mediterranean, it has come through the discovery of huge gas and oil fields to frictions and disputes between the neighboring countries. And we are seeing a steadily increasing Russian and Chinese presence and activity along the northern coast of Africa to establish there to form new relationships and connections or renew old and to get access to the North African countries.

ES & T: The 2nd US Fleet was reactivated in Norfolk 2018th What are the consequences for the US 6th Fleet overlooking mutual support and operational cooperation in the Atlantic?

Franchetti: I am very pleased with the reactivation of the oriented to the western Atlantic 2. US fleet with the task of protecting the Seeverbindungswege to support the Allies and to defend the homeland USA. The fleet has all the skills to maritime operations in the Atlantic to perform in the Far North and throughout the European maritime area. It is another "operational arm" of Naval Forces Europe. We have so far been extremely successful in our close and seamless cooperation in operations and exercises the command boundaries in the Atlantic. We believe that an opponent will try to find gaps at the borders and seams of our command areas to happen in there. Our responsibility is to avoid such gaps and seams and undermine all the efforts of an opponent. We already practice in peacetime, so that our cooperation in crisis and war functions effectively.

ES & T: The responsibility or area of ​​application of the US 6th Fleet also covers Africa. As you meet these additional task?

Franchetti: Our forces in Africa to support the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) at its core task of strengthening partnership networks and to strengthen the capabilities of our African partners. We work closely with our African partners navies and coast guards, as well as with other Euro-Atlantic partners to build a common network that will help the African countries to secure their maritime maritime security itself. The focus is our support in the fight against piracy, smuggling, illegal fishing and other criminal activities. in Africa we conduct three annual major maneuvers: "Cutless Express" (in the Western Indian Ocean), "Obangame Express" (in the Gulf of Guinea) and "Phoenix Express" (the Mediterranean). Any action helps increase the managerial and operational capability with our African partners. Here, our efforts in Africa by our European partners is strongly supported.

ES & T: the units for missile defense of the 6th US fleet operating in the Black Sea?

Franchetti: Our ships are provided for missile defense, operate routinely in the Black Sea and in other sea areas. There are multi-purpose vessels that meet alongside their missile defense mission, other missions together with our allies and partners in the region. This year, for example, operated the destroyer USS "Donald Cook" USS "Ross" and USS "Carney" in the Black Sea and participated in, amongst others, in bilateral exercises and maneuvers with Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey and Georgia as well as in multinational maneuvers "Sea Breeze" and "Breeze", which were planned jointly with Ukraine and with Bulgaria and implemented. The destroyer "Arleigh Burke" class form the core of our forward-deployed forces and, together with the missile defense system "Aegis Ashore Romania" they are part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), our commitment to defend Europe against threats ballistic missiles of outside the region. Next year, the US Navy will begin to replace them stationed in Rota / Spain destroyer with new destroyers modernster technology for missile defense, modernized weapons systems and new helicopters.

USS "Mount Whitney" - the lead ship of the US 6th Fleet

ES & T: The 6th US fleet represents an investment of US to Europe's security. How does cooperation with the European NATO partners?

Franchetti:We maintain close relations with all NATO navies, with the Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) and the Standing NATO Naval Forces. All my units of the US 6th Fleet take every opportunity to practice with their NATO partners together at sea and to operate - on water, under water, in the air and on land. We learn a lot from our partners. Because they know their particular application and its geography and they have ample operational experience in their region. In my view, the NATO navies provide tremendous support and are committed to strengthen our joint capabilities, interoperability and operational readiness.

Here are some examples of the past year: The German frigate "Hessen" and the Spanish frigate "Mendez Munez" were integrated into the aircraft carrier battle groups "Harry S. Truman" and "Abraham Lincoln" as AAW (Anti Air Warfare ships on long-range air defense). To strengthen our commitment, we conducted extensive aircraft carrier exercises with Norway, Portugal, Italy, Lithuania and the UK. Such exercises are to take place in the future. Our destroyer "Donald Cook" and "Ross" operated jointly with the French aircraft carrier battle group "Charles de Gaulle". Overall, the NATO navies participate in all exercises and maneuvers my fleet: 18 nations participated in baltops, 12 nations at "Sea Breeze" 13 nations "Formidable Shield", an integrated air defense exercise off Scotland and a total of 48 Nations the maneuvers "Obangame" / "Phoenix" / "Cutless Express" etc.

We have great advantages in the maritime area of ​​influence: All navies operate in the same geography, the same conditions and with the same application and operation procedures. Overall, we take every opportunity to operate together in exercises and maneuvers, to the credibility of our deterrent to emphasize and strengthen our commitment to defend and win. Together we are stronger!

The interview was conducted Dieter stockfish