BY U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command / U.S. Fourth Fleet / Edited by the Diálogo Staff
Navy and Marine forces have arrived in Rio de Janeiro in support of UNITAS LXIII, the world’s longest-running multinational maritime exercise, which is taking place September 8-22.
This year’s exercise is hosted by the Brazilian Navy and includes 20 participating nations, 19 ships, one submarine, 21 aircraft, accounting for approximately 5,500 total military personnel that are conducting operations principally off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
UNITAS, which is Latin for “unity,” was conceived in 1959 and has taken place annually since first conducted in 1960. This year marks the 63rd iteration. This year, Brazil is hosting UNITAS in conjunction and celebration of the bicentennial anniversary of both their nation’s independence and navy’s founding.
“This exercise is an incredible opportunity for all participating nations to come together as professional mariners on the sea, under the sea, in the air, and in the littorals, to operate and grow as a team in order to strengthen our partnerships and enhance our collective maritime posture,” said U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Jim Aiken, commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “Congratulations to Brazil on 200 years of independence and excellence in the maritime domain on the sea and on the land.”
In addition to the United States, UNITAS LXIII brings together 19 nations from across Central and South Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa to train forces in joint maritime operations that enhance tactical proficiency and increase interoperability. Participating nations include Belize, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
“Exercise UNITAS is a highly anticipated premier training opportunity for all the participating nations’ navies and marine corps in the Western Hemisphere,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General David Bellon, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South and Marine Forces Reserve. “UNITAS highlights the foundation of our partnerships and our dedication to building and sustaining the social and military relationships necessary to achieve common objectives and regional security.”
The initial in-port phase includes cultural exchanges, sporting events, community relations projects and the opportunity for UNITAS LXIII partners to participate in bicentennial events.
Following opening ceremonies on September 8, naval forces will conduct combined and joint operations as a multi-national task force, executing an event-driven scenario to train in multiple warfare areas. Ships and sailors will head to sea for maritime operation training and Marines will move inland to conduct amphibious training ranges before coming back together in support of a culminating multinational amphibious landing.
A significant focus of UNITAS LXIII is the cooperation and integration of the multinational navy forces with marine corps and naval infantries. The maritime domain includes the littorals that incorporates the ocean and the area inland from the shore which can be supported and defended directly from the sea.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.