UNITAS, which means “unity” in Latin, was conceived in 1959, first performed in 1960 and held every year since. This year marked the 63rd edition of the world’s longest annual multinational maritime exercise.
This year’s exercise was hosted by the Brazilian Navy and included 19 warships/ships, a submarine and 21 aircraft that conducted joint and combined scenario-based operations and training in and around the off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The exercise coincided with Brazil’s bicentennial, a historic milestone commemorating 200 years of the country’s independence and the birth of its navy.
“It is exciting to see 19 nations from Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa participating in UNITAS,” said Rear Admiral Jim Aiken, Commander of US Naval Forces Southern Command. /US 4th Fleet. “This exercise is a demonstration not only of our commitment to the region, but also of the strong relationships forged between our nations. The Western Hemisphere is our common home, and exercises like UNITAS strengthen our enduring geographic and cultural ties, connecting us to our common history and our common future.
The navy and maritime forces of Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Namibia, Panama , Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and the United States participated in the exercise.
While the overriding objective was to develop and test the command and control of forces at sea, the training in this exercise focused on the range of maritime operations. Specifically, there were scenarios dealing with Electronic Warfare, Anti-Aircraft Warfare and Air Defense, Anti-Surface Warfare, Live Fire, Maritime Interdiction, Littoral Operations, and Amphibious Operations. .
“One of the main advantages of UNITAS is the ability of all participating nations to train together and exchange ideas and tactics,” said Captain Meger Chappell, deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron 40 and deputy commander of the UNITAS working group 138.20. “During the exercise, I saw with my own eyes how the participating nations came together as a multinational task force to achieve all objectives. Together, we have strengthened our maritime partnerships, enhanced our skills, and enhanced our collaboration and interoperability.
The exercise was conducted in phases, beginning in port with sporting events and community relations projects to build relationships between partner nations.
The sea phase included a multi-day, multi-threat scenario that allowed participants to work together, further increasing preparedness for real-world crises that would require a multinational force response effort. Events included: surface tactical maneuvers, illegal drug trafficking training, live-fire drills, anti-submarine warfare drills, air defense drills and maritime interdiction operations.
The amphibious phase included U.S. Marines with partner nations taking positions in areas along the coast to train in support of larger naval operations. This phase also consisted of landing from warships.
US forces participating in UNITAS LXII included the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), the amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Albany (SSN 753), Commanding Officer of Amphibious Squadron Eight (PHIBRON) 8, Helicopter Maritime Combatant Squadron 22 (HSC) 22 “Sea Knights”, Helicopter Squadron “Spartans” Marine Attack 70 Detachment 2 (HSM) 70 Det 2, the “War Eagles” of Patrol Squadron Sixteen (VP) 9, Special Boat Team (SBT) 22, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, Seal Platoon from Seal Team 8, US Coast Guard Pacific Area Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET), Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, 25th Marine Regiment, 3d Battalion 25th Marine Regiment, 3d Force Reconnaissance Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Company (4th LAR), 4th Combat Engineer Battalion (4th CEB), 6th Battalion (6th ESB), 4th Naval Air Gunnery Liaison Company (ANGLICO), 4th Civil Affairs Group (4th CAG), Marine Aircraft Group 49 (MAG-49), US Marine Corps Forces South (MARFORSOUTH) and USNAVSO/ FOURTHFLT.
US Naval Forces Southern Command/US 4th Fleet supports joint and combined military operations of US Southern Command by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, improve interoperability and establish lasting partnerships to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South America region.
US Marine Corps Forces, South is the Marine Corps component of US Southern Command, is responsible for the planning of exercises, operations, and overall Marine Corps support for the assigned SOUTHCOM area of responsibility.