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Unitas Maritime Interdiction Operations Training in the Port of Montevideo

Conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard with Navy personnel from Argentina, Spain, the United States and Uruguay, and with members of the Uruguayan Prefectura Naval

(by 1Lt Sarah Schwennesen, USAF)

Posted: November 9, 2004


Lt. Peggy Gross leading the training with
Chief Bosenmate Keith Endicott
The United States Coast Guard conducted Maritime Interdiction Operations Training in the Naval Port of Montevideo, Uruguay, with Navy personnel from Argentina, Spain, the United States and Uruguay, and with members of the Uruguayan Prefectura Naval (coast guard). The training covered topics like search and rescue, ship boarding, approaching and handling subjects and conducting drug and explosive canine searches.

United States Coast Guard members of the International Training Division, stationed in Yorktown, Virginia, conducted the training with briefings and practical exercises. Lieutenant Peggy Gross, USCG, led the training with Chief Bosenmate Keith Endicott, Lieutenant JG Luis Gonzalez and Ensign Gabriel Vigil. The U.S. Coast Guard team discussed international maritime laws and the various missions of the USCG, from search and rescue to environmental protection enforcement, port security and law enforcement.

“The purpose of the International Training Division support to UNITAS is to help foster unity and cooperation among the nations participating in this valuable exercise. We, the USCG, come to this exercise to share our experiences and stimulate discussion between the countries so that we all can learn from each other and benefit from the various points of view and knowledge that everyone has,” said Chief Bosenmate Keith Endicott.

The Uruguayan Prefectura Naval, coast guard equivalent, demonstrated their canine search techniques with two members of their drug and explosive detection teams. Duke, a German Sheppard, with Marinero Nicolas Fariña, exhibited the ways that the dogs are trained to respond to drug or explosive scents.

“I think that the best part of the exercise today will be the tactics of ship boarding,” said 2nd Lieutenant Luis M. Lazaro, from the Spanish Navy. “The Spanish Navy is most accustomed to working within NATO. But between Uruguay and Argentina, we have a tradition of collaboration.”

Atlantic Phase of UNITAS, the largest and longest held naval exercise in the Americas, began Nov. 3 in Montevideo, Uruguay. This exercise provides joint and multinational training opportunities for ships, aircraft and submarines from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain and the United States.

Hosted by the Uruguayan Navy, the forces participating in UNITAS will train and work together for the next two weeks to develop interoperability and increase their readiness. After the first days of seminars and conferences, the naval and air forces will head to sea, to train in a wide variety of warfare areas from air defense to antisubmarine operations.

UNITAS exercises are conducted under the direction of Rear Adm. Vinson E. Smith, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), in support of SOUTHCOM’s Theater Security Cooperation strategy in the region. Throughout the years, UNITAS has provided an outstanding training opportunity in a high-tech environment while fostering multi-national coalition operations and increase friendship and understanding among regional naval forces. With the incorporation of an Air Force unit, UNITAS will increase its realism and relevance by integrating a joint dimension into this traditionally naval exercise.

URUGUAYAN FLEET COMMANDER DISCUSSES UNITAS

Rear Admiral Oscar Debali, the Uruguayan Navy fleet commander, discussed the importance of UNITAS for participating naval forces, as well as the impact of UNITAS for the Uruguayan Navy.

“This exercise is the most important combined operation that we [the Uruguayan Navy] are doing this year. This exercise gives us the chance to integrate our people with other naval forces. Through UNITAS we are getting contact and experience with new technology and procedures. This helps us to integrate with others as a multinational force.”

UNITAS is the greatest experience that an admiral can have in his career, Admiral Debali said. The Atlantic Phase is different from other phases of this exercise because command changes between fleet commanders of each naval power that is participating that year. “I am proud that this year the naval power of the fleet is under my command.”

Uruguay is supporting the operation with approximately 550 personnel. More than 2000 people from Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Spain and the United States are participating in the UNITAS Atlantic Phase.

Admiral Debali spoke about the joint aspect of this operation as being the strength of this exercise. “The Air Force will participate in maritime operations and this participation is very important because more than a combined operation, it is a joint operation and joint operations are the operations of the future. The more we work with these types of exercises, the better the results will be. This is a good challenge to have in the exercise because our country is involved in many international operations involving the United Nations, that are joint operations,” said Admiral Debali.

Atlantic Phase of UNITAS, the largest and longest held naval exercise in the Americas, began Nov. 3 in Montevideo, Uruguay. This exercise provides joint and multinational training opportunities for ships, aircraft and submarines from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain and the United States.

Hosted by the Uruguayan Navy, the forces participating in UNITAS will train and work together for the next two weeks to develop interoperability and increase their readiness. After the first days of seminars and conferences, the naval and air forces will head to sea, to train in a wide variety of warfare areas from air defense to antisubmarine operations.

UNITAS exercises are conducted under the direction of Rear Adm. Vinson E. Smith, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), in support of SOUTHCOM’s Theater Security Cooperation strategy in the region. Throughout the years, UNITAS has provided an outstanding training opportunity in a high-tech environment while fostering multi-national coalition operations and increase friendship and understanding among regional naval forces. With the incorporation of an Air Force unit, UNITAS will increase its realism and relevance by integrating a joint dimension into this traditionally naval exercise.


 
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