NATO trains on the coast of the Murcia Region

NATO Army trains in Cartagena waters

To demonstrate in a tangible way the naval power and capability of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in conducting combined operations (land, sea, air and space), as well as to generate deterrence effects in the face of potential external threats by offering unique opportunities to perfect the interoperability of Atlantic Alliance units. This is the double objective achieved by the Neptune Strike operational activities, which for 11 days have brought together some twenty NATO nations and partners in Mediterranean waters and which on Wednesday took place in the waters of Cartagena.

Fatares beach was the scene of an amphibious operation with a deployment of 1,415 people and the participation of the ships Juan Carlos I, Castilla and Numancia, as well as air assets (fighter planes and helicopters). The exercise involved the incursion of a landing battalion from the Tercio de la Armada into the rugged sandy area of the Cartagena coast to demonstrate the Alliance’s defensive capabilities and develop real-time unit coordination.

Before going into action, the Admiral of the Fleet Amphibious and Projection Group, Gonzalo Villar, highlighted the force’s ability to act “over long distances and on any coast in the world”. For his part, the Group’s Chief of Staff, David Durán, explained that the exercises carried out over the last few days have meant “playing in the Champions” of territorial defence, as leading units such as the aircraft carriers ‘Queen Elizabeth’ (British), ‘Cavour’ (Italian) and ‘Juan Carlos I’ (Spanish) have been involved for the first time together under NATO command in these activities, demonstrating the capabilities of the European Navies’ Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups.

As realistic as possible
As for the specific exercise in the waters off La Algameca, a reconnaissance team simulated a land incursion across the sea 24 hours before the agreed landing to ensure the feasibility of the landing. Two AV8 (Harrier) aircraft flew over the coast of Cartagena to secure the entry point for the units which, aboard helicopters and ‘Supercat’ and LCM vessels, departed from the amphibious ship Castilla to ‘take’ the beach. The exercise was as close to a real operation as possible, except for the time of day, since an incursion of this type is carried out at night to ensure greater secrecy, while the activity took place during the day to guarantee deployment and coverage.

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