BY Seaman Jahlena Royer / U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command / U.S. Fourth Fleet / Edited by the Diálogo Staff
More than 5,500 military personnel from 20 partner nations kicked off UNITAS LXIII (63) during an opening ceremony September 8, 2022.
This year’s exercise includes 19 warships/vessels, one submarine, and 21 aircraft from UNITAS participants: marine and naval forces from Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, Uruguay and the United States.
During the opening ceremony, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro highlighted the strong partnerships between UNITAS participating nations.
“It is a true privilege to join you in kicking off UNITAS, the world’s longest running international maritime exercise,” said Del Toro. “Our sailors and marines are proud to serve with the men and women who wear the cloth of your nations. We are committed to standing alongside you to defend the sea lanes, protect sovereign territory, and deter aggression.”
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 hosts UNITAS in conjunction and celebration of the bicentennial anniversary of both their nation’s independence and navy’s founding.
The exercise’s main objective is to increase interoperability among participating maritime services. UNITAS enables the assembled forces to organize and conduct combined maritime operations in a multinational task force and test their responsiveness through an exercise scenario. The secondary objective is to develop and enhance relationships among exercise participants.
“The seas have an unquestionable importance to the economic and social development of our countries,” saidBrazilian Rear Admiral Marcelo Menezes Cardoso, commander of the 1st Division Squadron and who serves as UNITAS Commander Task Group 138.20. “New threats to the seas have demanded a renewed effort of cooperation among our navies.”
UNITAS develops and sustains relationships that improve the capacity of our reemerging and enduring maritime partners to achieve common objectives. Additionally, the military-to-military exchanges foster friendly, mutual cooperation and understanding between participating navies and marine corps.
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.