Over the past few days, the U.S. and NATO have bolstered their military presence in Eastern Europe while putting their wider forces in high readiness in response to months of Russian aggression on the borders with Ukraine.
A Carrier Strike Group Is Watching Ukraine
The U.S. Navy has played its part by keeping the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, which is centered around the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, in the Mediterranean Sea for longer than planned and placing it under NATO command—something that hasn’t happened since the Cold War.
“The USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group will be placed under NATO operational control and serve as the centerpiece for this long-planned activity that fosters NATO allies’ ability to cooperate and integrate effectively,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby had said in a press briefing.
The American aircraft carrier has stayed in the region to assure NATO allies and deter Russia and watch over the Ukraine situation.
But the U.S. Navy isn’t the only one preparing for any contingencies. The French and Italian navies have also deployed their capital flattops in the area. And now, all three navies are conducting a rare tri-carrier operation.
Currently, in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the multinational exercise Clemenceau 22 is taking place with the French Navy leading.
The French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, and the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour are conducting tri-carrier operations with 4.5th and 5th generation fighter jets. The American and Italian flattops carry the F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jet, while the French carrier brings its Dassault Rafale air superiority fighters.
Several smaller surface warships and submarines are taking place in the exercise.
French and American Naval Cooperation Vital on Ukraine
Despite a rough bump with the announcement of the AUKUS pact that denied France a very lucrative submarine contract worth tens of billions, the U.S. and French navies have a good working relationship.
Recently, the top French officer visited his American counterpart in D.C.
“The geopolitical context is shaped by the competition for global commons. Our navies act at the intersection of sea, cyberspace and space. They will play a prominent role in the next decades to maintain peace and stability in our regions. Their capability to fight together always make them stronger. The French Navy intends to keep working hard to maintain the best interoperability with its U.S. ally,” Chief of the French Navy Admiral Pierre Vandier stated.
In December, the two navies signed a Strategic Interoperability Framework, which aims to improve how the two navies can work together and build a mutual capability and operational goals.
“Today’s global challenges underscore the importance of strong partnerships, Our partnership with the French is rooted in common values and helps us to take on the challenges of the 21st century. Alongside our Allies and partners we will continue to defend freedom, preserve economic prosperity and keep the seas open and free,” U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday said after the meeting.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.