First Multinational Joint UNITAS Begins in South Atlantic with Spanish participation.

The Atlantic Phase of UNITAS, the largest and longest-held naval exercise in the Americas, began Nov. 3 in Montevideo, Uruguay, incorporating for the first time a U.S. Air Force unit in addition to ships, aircraft and submarines from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain and the United States.

Hosted by the Uruguayan navy, the forces participating in UNITAS will train and work together for the next two weeks to develop interoperability and increase their readiness. After the first days of seminars and conferences, the naval forces will head to sea to train in a wide variety of warfare areas, from air defense to antisubmarine operations.

“This exercise is the most important combined operation that we [the Uruguayan Navy] are doing this year,” said Uruguayan Rear Adm. Oscar Debali. “This exercise gives us the chance to integrate our people with other naval forces. Through UNITAS we are getting contact and experience with new technology and procedures. This helps us to integrate with others as a multinational force.”

The U.S. forces participating are led by Capt. Dave Costa, commander, Destroyer Squadron 6, and include the frigates USS DeWert (FFG 45) and USS John L. Hall (FFG 32) and their embarked air detachments, in addition to an Air Force C-130 detachment from the 5th Special Operations Squadron.

UNITAS exercises are conducted under the direction of Rear Adm. Vinson E. Smith, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), in support of U.S. Southern Command's Theater Security Cooperation strategy in the region....With the incorporation of an Air Force unit, UNITAS prepares to increase its realism and relevance by integrating a joint dimension into this traditional naval exercise.

[Source: Navy News Stand, US Navy, 11Nov04]

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