Department of Defense News Briefing by Admiral James Foggo in the Pentagon Briefing Room on the upcoming Trident Juncture 18 Exercise
Admiral James G. Foggo III, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; Colonel Rob Manning, Director, Defense Press Office
COLONEL ROB MANNING: All right, good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Colonel Rob Manning. I'm the Director of Press Operations here at the Department of Defense. Thanks for joining us today for a brief by the Commander of Allied Joint Force Command, Admiral James G. Foggo, and his bio is at jfcnaples.nato.int.
He will discuss NATO's upcoming exercise Trident Juncture which will exercise NATO's ability to martial and integrate forces and ensure interoperability. This exercise occurs from October 25th until November 7th in Norway and other areas of the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea. And it's one of the largest NATO exercise in recent history.
Admiral Foggo will provide a brief opening statement, and then he will open it up for questions. We have a limited amount of time today, so during the Q&A portion, please state your name and outlet if I don't identify you by name.
Please turn all of your electronic devices to the silent mode. The Wifi password is in the back of the room to your rear. And again, thanks for your time today. We'll get started here very shortly.
ADMIRAL JAMES G. FOGGO: All right, colonel, ready to go?
COL. MANNING: Yes, sir.
ADM. FOGGO: OK. Colonel Manning, thanks a lot for the introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for coming. And as you can see, I am not a hologram. I am here in person, and delighted to be here. So I appreciate, Rob, your bringing us together today to talk about some very interesting and timely subjects with regards to security in a maritime domain from whence I come.
But first and foremost, ladies and gentlemen, the Pentagon press corps, let me thank you for coming and spending time with me. It's a pleasure for me to be here with you. I see friends in the audience. Megan. Where's Sam? Sam's not here. Sam's outside. And Barb Starr, who spent many days down with Admiral Mullen when I worked in the bunker as the EA for the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and even travelled with us.
And Barb will tell you she knows very well that one of my great friends in this business is John Kirby, who's currently on network television, and John goes back seven years, I think, as the public affairs officer to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and one man in particular, Admiral Mullen.
And he taught me a lot of great lessons about the media accuracy and the media -- and interactions with the media, which is the reason why I wanted to come here today. Then I'll mention John a little later on in terms of the rule of the threes.
So I want to talk to you today about what I'm doing in Europe in my job as the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, one of two allied operational commanders under the Supreme Allied Commander, General Curtis Scaparrotti and, of course, the North Atlantic Council and the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.
As a Commander of Allied Forces, I wanted to talk to you also about the largest exercise that we've embarked on since 2002, exercise Trident Juncture, which will take place in Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic, the Baltic Sea, including Finnish and Swedish airspace from 25 October to 7 November.
I'm telling you the start date and the stop date, and I think that's important. And I'm going to tell you a little bit about the exercise and who's participating as well because we believe, as John Kirby would tell you, in complete transparency in what we're doing.
There are some activities that will take place earlier from the 15th to the 17th of October in and around our NATO ally in Iceland, and I will spend my first trip in Iceland visiting the individuals and the Marines as they come to shore and interacting with key leaders up there, and I look forward to that.
We have 45,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines from 31 different nations including 29 NATO allies and two partner nations, Sweden and Finland. That's significant. This exercise is a prime example of NATO allies and partners working together and our interoperability.
And you hear words a lot in this building. We call them “buzzwords”. I know John doesn't like the term “buzzwords”, but I'll use it anyway. Interoperability\is important. It's how we fight together, how we link together in our communications systems, and how we work together as friends and partners for one common purpose and that's defense of the members of the alliance and the territory inside that alliance.
Air, land, maritime, special forces, and amphibious forces will participate. Allies are contributing about 150 aircraft over 60 ships and 10,000 rolling or tracked vehicles. So armored personnel carriers, trucks -- those are the rolling vehicles. The tracked vehicles -- those APCs or armored personnel carriers with treads or tanks or amphibious assault craft that are going to come ashore.
Trident Juncture is designed to ensure that NATO forces are trained and ready. It will be an important test and a tremendous demonstration of our collective capabilities. Let me emphasize that this is an exercise. This is for training, but it is real because the lessons we learned are very real and they'll benefit us in our desire to become more resilient and stronger together as an alliance.
And the exercise in and of itself will have a deterrent effect on anybody who might think about crossing a contiguous border or violating the sovereignty of a member of the NATO alliance.
Let me stress another point. NATO is a defensive alliance. We value openness and transparency. I’ve just told you all about the exercise. I've told you when it starts, when it finished, who's in it and what's in it.
And so, transparency is important to us. Observers are invited, and the international rules on military exercises will be respected in full. As a result of our observation of those rules under the OSCE -- Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- we have invited several people to observe the exercise, including the Russians. That invite went out a few weeks ago.
Exercises like this show that NATO is strong. Together, we're more effective at upholding our common values and preserving peace. Trident Juncture will prove that in this very unpredictable world, and I don't think anybody would disagree with me on that, NATO remains an anchor of stability; 70-years-young, 70-years-old, the longest alliance in the history of Europe stuck together, the strongest alliance in the history of Europe.
Just the GDP of all the NATO countries combined represents 38 trillion euros. Defense spending 0.9 trillion euros and thanks to American leadership, and our president and his urging to increase defense spending, I saw a quote the other day from DOD that all NATO partners -- or, all NATO allies have increased their spending in some way, shape or form.
Some are at two percent, some are rising, and the goal is to get there by 2024. So with that, we buy additional capacity and capability in which to defend ourselves, and I think that's very important.
My immediate second in the chain of command in Naples is a Canadian lieutenant general, Lieutenant General Christian Juneau. He served with us in Afghanistan. He's a very capable officer and he will command ashore with the land component. And that is exactly where he belongs, between Bodo and Stavanger in Norway. I will be where I belong, at sea on either USS Mount Whitney or bouncing around some of the other ships out there.
And it's going to be sporty because this is wintertime. This is the North Atlantic. And I think it'll be a challenge for all those nations to come up, some are more used to it than others. The Norwegians are certainly used to that kind of weather and those kind of seas. The American Marines that come over, this is going to be a great opportunity for them to fight in the archipelago, fight without their boots in the sand, and come ashore in Norway and work in cold weather operations.
Now, we need a theme, right? Everybody has to have a theme, a bumper sticker, a mantra. Kirby would tell you, rule of three. So I'll go, don't go five, go three. If you go five it's OK sometimes.
But what's the rule of three? So we said well, this is really the three Ds for Trident Juncture. NATO is a defensive alliance. Trident Juncture demonstrates our capability and together we deter potential adversaries.
Now, that said, I want to add three more Ds. And these Ds come from our big boss, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He says it's all about -- NATO's an alliance that is all about deter, defend and dialogue.
You know, the symbol of my headquarters is the Lion of Saint Mark's from Venice; I'm very proud of that. The lion holds a sword, the sword is to defend. The lion's paw is on the book of peace; deterrence. But you have to have dialogue, and we do.
I think Chairman Dunford and my boss, General Scaparrotti, have had an ongoing dialogue with the chief of defense of Russian armed forces, General Gerasimov, over the last few months. There's been some tense moments and I think that dialogue is good to defuse and to avoid mistakes and miscalculations.
In the headquarters in Naples, ourselves, for the last few years we've observed the annual INCSEA dialogue with the Russians, where we come to the table and we tell them what we don't like that transpired in the last year and they tell us the same thing. But we have a dialogue and it's professional. And that's the way it should be and we should continue that. So deter, defend and dialogue. And I don't think you'd want it any other way as citizens of the United States of America because we have to avoid those mistakes and miscalculations.
At the core of the exercise is the NATO Response Force, 5,000-plus people strong. We're going to demonstrate the ability to move that force quickly. In the NRF, which we are qualifying to take over in 2019, the NATO Response Force VJTF -- Very High Readiness Joint Task Force -- will be led by the German/Netherlands Corps. And I have a very capable officer in Lieutenant General van der Laan from the Netherlands who will lead that fight.
The exercise will also be supported by allied air command and maritime command. We're going to test several different things, but probably most importantly as much fun as we're going to have on the ground doing the training that Marines and soldiers and sailors and airmen like to do to get their kit out to operate their equipment, to work with the allies and partners.
This is a logistics exercise. I call it the sixth domain of warfare. Moving 45,000 people and 10,000 vehicles and 60 some odd ships and 120 aircraft around the theater is not easy, so this is a test of our ability to do that rapidly.
We do this well in the United States Joint Force. We have something called a TPFDD. You know, you've all heard all the acronyms -- Time Phased Force [and Deployment Data]. NATO is developing the same capability to move quickly and that is a good thing because it's recognized as something we're going to have to do.
In order to deter, you have to be present. To be present, you've got to be there. You've got to be there and you've got to be there quickly.
So I think SecDef came up with a proposal for the last summit in July in NATO headquarters in Brussels called the 30-30-30-30 Plan, moving 30 aircraft squadrons, 30 ships, and 30 battalions of troops in 30 days, and that's a start.
And so, although the articulation of that plan and how it will integrate into NATO forces is not yet -- the ink is not yet wet on that piece of paper. We're going to test our ability to move stuff quickly during Trident Juncture, so sixth domain of warfare; important.
We're committed to our ally Norway. They are committed to their defense and defense of the alliance. Norway is going to test the total defense concept where every Norwegian understands what's going on. Every Norwegian is in some way, shape, or form involved in this. Some will be cheerleaders on the sidelines.
Others will help us with the facilitation and the arrival and receipt and follow on forwarding the forces throughout the lines of communication in Norway whether that be by air, by road, or by rail. And I know because I've been up there that they are enthusiastic about this and so am I.
Before taking your questions, I want to make sure that you understand that when I say deter, defend and dialogue, I mean that NATO is a defensive alliance. It's an alliance that's been around for a long time. It's the strongest alliance on the planet as far as I'm concerned.
I'm a huge Trans-Atlanticist. This is my fifth tour in Europe. It's my fourth time as a NATO commander. I am a believer in the alliance. I am a believer in Article V. We don't go looking for opportunities to conduct offensive operations. We're not interested in taking somebody else's territory. We are interested in defending the territory of those 29 nations, and we are interested in partnering with other nations who are interested in security in the region.
And there's a lot of people who want to join up. We've got another nation right now that wants to come on board. We're going to have a summit next summer kind of out of sequence to discuss this.
So with that, I'll stop there and take your questions. And excuse me, I'm just coming off a little bit of a flu bug at the tail end here today, so I may have to suck down a little water while I'm answering.
COL. MANNING: Sir, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
ADM. FOGGO: You're welcome.
COL. MANNING: With get started with Associated Press, Bob Burns. I would just remind everyone we do have a limited amount of time today.
ADM. FOGGO: Yes.
ADM. FOGGO: Hey Bob, how are you?
Q: Hey, good. Thanks.
ADM. FOGGO: Good to see you again.
Q: Thank you. Same here. Just a couple quick questions on -- you mentioned that the Russians have invited to observe. Have they accepted? You also mentioned the importance of dialogue. Have they been briefed on the specifics of the exercise? And thirdly, are there any nuclear simulation or cyber elements to the exercise?
ADM. FOGGO: So as far as the invitation to the Russians, have they accepted, to my knowledge from when I left the theater just a few days ago, not yet, but I fully expect that they'll want to come. It's in their interest to come and to see what we do.
And they'll learn things. But you know what? I want them to be there so they can see how well we work together. As far as the individual operational plans with regards to cyber or nuclear, I'd prefer not to comment on that, but I will tell you that we are always vigilant against attacks in cyberspace.
And unfortunately we just saw a couple of open press reports on attacks on OPCW in the Netherlands and in the U.K. yesterday, so I would fully expect -- I'd be a fool not to expect that something untoward might happen to our networks, and we're going to make sure that we're resilient and capable of responding to that. Third part of your questions?
Q: Whether you've briefed the Russians on the specifics of the exercise?
ADM. FOGGO: Absolutely, because I know they watch TV and you guys have helped me do that. This is probably the third or fourth press conference that I've done on Trident Juncture, twice with Norwegians, once with Vice Admiral Ketil [Olsen] at NATO headquarters about three or four months ago, another at my headquarters with Admiral Bruun-Hanssen, the CHOD, and I'll be joined by Lieutenant General Jakobsen when I'm in NATO on Monday.
These have gone out to a broad brush set of players in the media, but as far as me sitting down personally with the Russians and talking to them, no. But I know that General Scaparrotti has raised this issue in his conversations with the CHOD.
Q: By raise it you mean to brief them or just to mention that it's happening?
ADM. FOGGO: Depends on your definition of brief. They know it's happening and they can read the details in the newspaper, but that's not something I would expect a four-star to four-star to have to go into. Hey, we're having this exercise. It's at this time and more details to follow. Oh, by the way according to OSCE rules you have a seat at the table if you want it.
Q: Thank you.
ADM. FOGGO: Yes.
COL. MANNING: Barbara Starr, CNN.
Q: Admiral, could you go a little bit more into your view right now about the Russian military capabilities especially because you've talked publicly about their submarine operations in the North Atlantic, their advances in quieting technology, and more specifically, the challenge that poses to the U.S. and NATO military forces in trying to operate against the Russians?
And the last part of my question is, as they expand trying to sell their systems like the S-400 that impact Turkey, Syria, the Mediterranean, what do these Russian weapons advances mean for NATO operations in that region?
ADM. FOGGO: OK, two really great questions, Barb. Thank you very much. First off on Russian military capabilities and particularly one that I've talked about recently and this morning with the Atlantic Council and the undersea domain. You know, Russia is not 10 feet tall, but they do have capabilities that keep me vigilant, concerned. One of them is in the undersea domain.
For example, if you were to look at the surface Navy versus the submarine force, you wanted to compare apples to apples and aircraft carrier to an aircraft carrier, Kuznetsov does not even come close to a Nimitz-class carrier or a Ford-class carrier.
So in the maritime, in the surface Navy, they're building a lot of small ships, a lot of new construction, small classes of ships, but they do not have a robust capital ship capability and certainly multiple aircraft carriers like we have to be able to operate globally.
They're more regionally focused in Europe and Africa, and it's certainly from their bases in the Pacific.
But they have continued to do research and development and recapitalize in the undersea domain. They see that as asymmetric. They see it as one in which there is a challenge, and that challenge is the United States Navy and the United States submarine force.
And I like what our CNO Admiral John Richardson said at the anniversary of the Midway celebration in his speech. When he talked about the margins to victory, and back then the margins to victory were razor thin. It could've gone either way in that battle.
And the reason I wrote my piece called "The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic" was kind of a wakeup call, a call to arms, two years ago in 2016. Because in the undersea domain, the margins to victory are razor thin.
So, we have to continue to put a capital effort into the development of our technologies and antisubmarine warfare. This is not just submarines, it's maritime patrol aircraft, it's sensors of all types, and it's the surface Navy with their multifunction towed arrays, and the training and the professionalism that goes along with it, for us to have the knowledge and the awareness of where the adversaries operate.
Russians have produced the new Dolgorukiy-class submarine. They've produced the Severodvinsk-class submarine. They've produced the new Kilo hybrid-class submarines. Six of them are operating in the Black Sea of the eastern Mediterranean right now. They're firing the Kalibr missile, very capable missile.
It has a range which, if launched from any of the seas around Europe -- Europe's really a peninsula; Caspian, Baltic, Arctic, North Atlantic, Mediterranean or Black Sea -- could range any one of the capitals of Europe. That's a concern to me, and it's a concern to my NATO partners and friends. So we should know where they are at all times. Do I think that they would do something like that? No, I think they'd be foolish to do something like that.
But, nevertheless, we should have that situational awareness. So it's in our best interest to have a better submarine force, and I believe that we do. I believe...
Q: Can you detect all Russian submarines wherever they are, do you know where they all are at -- at all times?
ADM. FOGGO: Well, I prefer not to comment on the -- the tactical details and the operational issues. But I can tell you that we hold an acoustic advantage, and we will continue to do that. Our boats are the best in the world.
COL. MANNING: Lara Seligman, Foreign Policy.
Q: Hi, sir. Thanks for being here. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about the Russian initiative to build a -- an intermediate range ballistic missile and what we can -- what we can do in terms of our missile defense capability and in -- in the region and not just ours but also shoring up our allies’ missile defense capabilities, on Aegis, Aegis Ashore, those types of capabilities. Can you talk about that, please?
ADM. FOGGO: Yes, Lara. Thanks very much for the question. I think you're referring to the recent discussion of the breakout with the Novator missile SSC-8. It's also got a nomenclature of 9M729. And this missile recently was revealed to have a range that's an INF treaty buster. General Mattis, Secretary Mattis, talked about that recently.
That is indeed unfortunate in the abrogation of a treaty which we have observed -- the United States has observed for a very long time.
But these things happen, and so it's necessary to have strong defensive capabilities in terms of defensive weapon systems.
And also, we're still a signature, and we still observe the INF Treaty, so it remains to be seen what at the policy level will be done about any breakout on the Russian side. So I won't comment on that; that's really for the third deck and for policy.
As to other things that we can do or are doing in the region, you mentioned Aegis Ashore, a very capable system which resides in Romania and we're building a new one in Poland. That system carrying the interceptor SM-3 is the most capable in the world. We demonstrate it every other year during Formidable Shield '15, '17, and we're going to do it again in '19. All the allies come. They all want to be part of this, many of them want to be part of missile defense of Europe.
The interceptor and Aegis Ashore is really designed to counter Iranian ballistic missiles that are coming over the horizon and threatening European capitals. And as you see the ups and downs of the relationship between the United States and Iran, or Europe and Iran, you can understand why that's important and why there's backing for that system inside Romania, a NATO partner, and also in Poland.
Other things that Barb mentioned -- I didn't answer her question -- other systems that are out there S-400, S-300, Bastion anti-ship cruise missile.
So the Russians are taken full advantage of their illegal annexation of Crimea in the territory to build up a capability there that tries to deny access, anti-access area denial capability in the area around Crimea, in the Black Sea, in Kaliningrad, and now in the Eastern Mediterranean because they have a foothold in Tartus and Latakia. That's a concern to all of us. We watch that very carefully.
However, we are not going to be deterred in conducting freedom of navigation operations or securing the sea lines of communications in international waters in any of those places. Because those waters are meant -- they call them the commons for region -- reason. They are common water for everybody to use.
And so whether it's in NATO in a standing NATO maritime group or in the United States in a FONOP -- and, you recently saw one with Decatur in the South China Sea -- we will continue to operate undeterred by any of these systems. And we will develop, and do the R&D and fielding of systems that can counter those threats in the theater.
COL. MANNING: Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose.
Q: Thank you. Admiral, given your description of what this exercise involves and the fact that this is meant to have a deterrence value, is it accurate to say this exercise will simulate NATO repelling a Russian invasion?
ADM. FOGGO: You can draw your own conclusions but there's an adversary that comes across NATO allies’ border and --
Q: What other major adversaries?
ADM. FOGGO: Well, I was going to ask you the same question.
ADM. FOGGO: So you're right. So there's a strong deterrent message here that will be sent. And part of that message is, you know, you -- we -- we had a great discussion this week amongst some of the Navy flags in the -- in the Washington metropolitan area and people that had come in from other theaters about risk.
Now, when you look at risk on the part of the Russian Federation, again, I think I said earlier, this isn't the Cold War. They're not a global force. It's not bipolarity and they're not all over the world. They're operating in Europe and Africa, some parts of the Pacific. They have interests in Europe and Africa. They're trying to bifurcate or divide the alliance, and split traditional allies and partners from one another.
They were able to do something in the Ukraine that was very unfortunate. I've told a lot of my friends -- I think I talked to Barb earlier about this great book, many of you probably read it. "War in 140 Characters" by David Patrikarakos. It's about what you all do. It's about the war in cyberspace, the war of ideas and social media.
And if the prelude to war becomes the war itself, then we have to kind of rethink, you know, how we do strategy and execution at the tactical level in warfighting for the joint force. But I think there's a serious risk calculus that goes in the minds of the key leaders in the Russian Federation. If they're not sure that they're going to achieve their objectives, if they're not sure they're going to win, they're not going to take the risk.
So what does that mean for us? It means we have to be really strong. Right? Hence, the need for additional defense spending in the alliance, a rise to the two percent level, interoperability and exercises like Trident Juncture. Which is why I'm happy that we have observers, because they're going to see that we're very good at what we do. And that will have a deterrent effect on anybody who might want to cross those borders; but, one -- one nation in particular.
Q: Thank you. I apologize for interrupting. That was...
ADM. FOGGO: No, no. No, no. No, absolutely not. You kidding me? It was a great question. Thank you.
COL. MANNING: Sir, unfortunately we have time for one more question then...
ADM. FOGGO: OK.
COL. MANNING: ... then your closing remarks. And we will go to Megan Eckstein with U.S. Naval Institute.
ADM. FOGGO: All right.
Q: Thank you. Sir, especially this year, you've been more successful in bringing more Naval forces to Europe. You had the carrier strike group there earlier this year as well as two-thirds of an amphibious ready group.
So I was wondering if you could just shed some light on what that jockeying process kind of looks like that's helped you be so successful, and then what else you need in terms of ISR presence deterrents to -- to do what you need with the Russian submarine threat?
ADM. FOGGO: Yes. I think the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Chief of Naval Operations and the warfighting commanders have attempted to implement a kind of a new strategy, if you will, known as dynamic force employment. And so the carrier Harry S. Truman is -- is really one of the first assets that's been used in this dynamic force employment.
So she had a plan and that plan changed. And it was to my benefit to have her remain in theater for the period of time that she did. She went home, did a little bit of maintenance availability and now she's back. And it is absolutely terrific to have the carrier and the associated support of her cruisers and destroyers and her air wing with us. We've been able to do incredible things throughout the theater.
We had a strong presence in the eastern Mediterranean. We contributed to strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria from the Mediterranean side. It's not the first time we've done it, but that's been recent, in the last couple years since I was the Sixth Fleet commander.
We were able to participate in BALTOPS from the Adriatic; amazing. It's the first time that the air wing from an aircraft carrier's been able to do that and that was to the great credit of Rear Admiral Eugene Black, the Strike Group commander and also Vice Admiral Lisa Franchetti, so innovative, out-of-the-box thinking.
Now she's back. She was up in Iceland. She's down doing some operations near and around the U.K., and I fully expect that she'll be up north and joining us as we're doing Trident Juncture.
And that sends a very strong message that the United States will operate anywhere, either unilaterally or in collaboration with our NATO partners and allies. And like I said, nobody in the world can come close to a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in -- in terms of firepower, dwell and endurance.
And those guys and gals out on that carrier and the Marines are doing a fantastic job. So we're keeping the adversaries back on their heels. They don't know where we're going next and that's a good thing. And we're working more with allies and partners because we have that additional capability.
Right now I have -- I think, at last count, and my PAO can double check the figures -- 495,000 tons of gray-hulled shipping operating in the theater. And that's great. I love it.
Now this is [transient] presence, so it's for the period of a deployment. It's not always that high, but we're making full use of it. And thank you, Megan, for your question.
I'll take the young lady's question here and a couple more because I’ve still got a little bit of time.
Q: Carla Babb, Voice of America. I'd like...
ADM. FOGGO: ... Hey, Carla. How are you?
Q: ... Good. Good. If you don't mind, I'd like you to switch into your Africa...
ADM. FOGGO: Sure.
Q: Navy hat, and I wanted to ask you about piracy.
ADM. FOGGO: Yes.
Q: Maritime piracy, as the State Department just released, is on the rise.
ADM. FOGGO: Right.
Q: In Nigerian waters, we just saw a kidnapping a couple weeks ago.
Can you talk about what the U.S. Navy can do to help its allies, like Nigeria, work together to counter this threat?
ADM. FOGGO: Sure. So we've been work -- and I've been working on Africa Partnership Station since I first arrived in Naples end of 2009. And Africa Partnership Station and the exercise series that we do, the Express series around Africa, north, east, west, south, is all part of assisting African maritime nations to solve African problems. So African solutions to African problems, you probably heard that before.
The difference between 2009 and 2018 post Yaoundé Code of Conduct and some infrastructure, some radars, some AIS stations, some collaboration, and all the exercises we've done in between has been like night and day. And you're right. So we had a problem on the East Coast of Africa with Somali pirates, we put a lot of emphasis on that and a lot of capacity on that, and that problem is now manageable.
We're starting to see the rise of that problem in the Gulf of Guinea. So I'll head out in October to a Gulf of Guinea conference in France. Partnering with the French, I'll have African partners coming to Naples for the Coalition Force Maritime Commanders Conference in December. We finished Obangame Express in the spring; I was down there and took the USS Mount Whitney down there for the first time. All with the goal of assisting them in doing what they need to do to protect their territorial waters.
I think the -- one of the recent successes, I'm very proud of many of the different countries that were involved were -- was a motor vessel, Maximus, that occurred about 2 years ago when I was 6th Fleet Commander.
So the commodore called me from CTS 63. She was down in the Africa area, Heidi Agle said there's a report of a pirate mothership out here in African waters. I was in Naples, and so I said, "Go find it. You have a fast ship" -- they had one of our high-speed vessels -- "and call me back when you locate it." She called the next day and said, "It's a ghost, it's not here, it's probably a false report."
OK. The next day she called me, "It's not a ghost. It's actually taken a vessel under control, motor vessel Maximus." I said, "OK, so what are we doing about it?" She goes, "Well, I'm going to shadow them." "Good. Shadow it." And we have limited authorities to do anything in African waters, so I said, "Let's call our African partners," who we'd been working with.
So we called the Ghanaian Navy. They sent out some of their defender boats. They tracked the vessel through Togo and Benin, and then those pirates in that vessel made the mistake of going into Nigerian territorial waters and they were taken down by Nigeria SOF Real Admiral Henry Babalobo, who's one of our friends and also somebody who's benefited from the Africa Partnership Station and Obangame Express. They did a great job.
Unfortunately, one of the pirates was killed because he challenged the Nigerians when they came on board. That in and of itself shows the effectiveness of the fighting force. They took the vessel back, they returned it to its rightful owner, and none of the crew were harmed.
So that's a success story, that's who we want to get after in Africa.
I want to say one more thing about Africa, and that is it's not just about piracy. You know, NATO has recognized that there are problems on the continent. We want to try to help because NATO believes in the 360 degree approach. So we have stood up an entity in my headquarters called the NATO Strategic Direction South [Hub].
I gave you some brochures and in those brochures are my five big rocks for NATO and my five big rocks for Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa. The Hub is one of them. The Hub is about 80 professional people who've been established at my headquarters to assist in consulting, connecting, and coordinating African partners with NGOs, with international organizations, who can help them do what?
You know, when I go around and do a straw poll and I say to people, "Why did NATO make a capital investment of -- it's a lot of people, right? Eighty people, that's high overhead plus part of the building, plus some modifications, why -- why do we do that?"
A lot of the folks will say, "Oh, it's because of illegal migration." No, not true. That's a symptom of a greater problem. The greater problem is rule of law, governance, and development. And so that's our goal to get after rule of law or government -- governance and development for our African partners and friends.
We don't do it with boots on the ground. We do it with our brains. There's some very sharp young people that understand IT better than I do. We've done some webinars recently that has connected us with about a thousand IP addresses throughout Africa.
One of the first things we had to do was convince them that as an alliance, a NATO alliance, this was not going to be another Libya operation. Because they're very upset about that. We're here to help you. And I think we're making inroads and progress. Certainly, Tunisia and Jordan, as you saw from the Secretary General's remarks, are on the radar scope.
The NATO Mission in Iraq, which is also headquartered in -- in my headquarters is on the radar scope. Assisting in the Sahel, assisting up north, assisting in the Gulf of Guinea, all part of this build governance.
And so we work with the United Nations, the African Union, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Organization of Migrants, I could go on and on and on, and we've had these folks to our headquarters and we've visited them.
This is not a short-term game. This is -- it's -- it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. The AFRICOM Combatant Command's been around for 10 years. This will be their 10-year anniversary. So we started the Hub at full capability in July. It's going to take a decade or more to assist our partners in Africa, to help them help themselves build that governance and conduct that development that we all so dearly want for them.
Because they don't want anything different than you and me. They want a family, a job, shelter and a safe haven. And if they don't have that, that's why they leave and try to come to Europe, which creates a burden for Europeans. Some countries have it tougher than others economically, and they can't sustain this. And so our goals are just to try to assist with development and governance, and we'll see how it goes.
So far it's going pretty well. And thanks for your question.
Q: Can I follow up just really quickly?
ADM. FOGGO: Sure, yes.
Q: It sounded like you were pushing back on the reporting that the -- the counter-piracy in Nigeria has been ineffective. You were pointing out some of the areas where it was effective. What do you think? Do you think overall it's pretty ineffective on countering piracy at the moment?
ADM. FOGGO: No actually, I was just down there for Obangame Express and I went through Abuja and I went to Lagos. I met with the Nigerian naval staff, all the flags and senior leaders. I just saw Admiral Ibas at the International Seapower Symposium in Newport, Rhode Island.
I think they have the right vision. I think what they would like to have is a little bit more equipment, training, and capacity in terms of special boat squadrons, special operators that do this sort of thing for them, and this -- this is our -- if you were to ask General Waldhauser what does AFRICOM -- AFRICOM do to help African partners, he would tell you we are there with them by, with, and through.
In other words, we don't do it for the African partners, we will help them, we will train them, we will show them, and they will have to do it themselves. And so sooner or later, they'll get the capacity that they need to get after the problem. As the -- the threat continues to rise and continues to garner attention, I think you'll see more resources directed towards that particular threat. We're aware of it. They're aware of it. We're working it, but I would not be negative and say that the situation is dire. Yes, there have been kidnappings, and there's a big discussion about, is a kidnapping piracy, or is it criminal activity in return for a ransom? I don't know. I kind of think it's the same thing. You're holding somebody against their will, you know, just like they were holding the ships off of Somalia. So it's got to stop, and it gets at this real problem that I've talked about, about governance and rule of law, not just on the land. Africa's a big continent; you've got to do it in the maritime domain as well.
And so we'll -- we're -- we're with them, and we're going to stay with them, and I enjoy the relationship I have with our African partners, and we're going to talk about this at the (inaudible) in December, when they come up to see me. Thank you.
I'll take one more. You decide. I don't want to be the bad guy.
COL. MANNING: Yes, sir. Tom Squitieri, Talk News Media.
Q: Yeah, thank you, sir, for doing this.
ADM. FOGGO: Yeah.
Q: Two quick questions...
ADM. FOGGO: Sure.
Q: ... and one clarification.
ADM. FOGGO: Yeah.
Q: When you talked about Kuznetsov, you're referring to the aircraft carrier...
ADM. FOGGO: Yeah.
Q: ... and not the star for the Washington Capitals?
ADM. FOGGO: I like him. Yeah, yeah, they -- they got the trophy. You're -- you're absolutely right. The aircraft carrier.
Q: My -- my questions, sir, are interoperability, Turkey's going to participate in this, and there's, of course, concerns because it's buying its S -- S-400. Is that a -- is that a concern with -- with NATO allies, with the Russian equipment and interoperability? And Colonel Manning mentioned to us that this is the largest exercise since, I think, 2002. Is there anything else unique about this exercise that we should know about? Thank you.
ADM. FOGGO: Thanks for the question. So on Turkey, you know, that's a policy issue, and that's something between Ankara and Washington that they're going to have to work out. I would obviously prefer that they not buy the S-400 system, but that's something that's been ongoing dialogue between our Department of Defense, their Ministry of Defense and our two key leaders, our...
Q: That -- that won't affect them in this exercise?
ADM. FOGGO: No, no, no, no, no, no. No, not at all. In fact, I've seen the CNO Admiral Osbal twice in the last month. So we had a very good conference on Black Sea security in Naples -- second time. We've done this in 2015. He came. He was just promoted to four stars -- congratulate him. He's the chief of naval operations in Turkey, and he was at the international Seapower Symposium.
The mil-to-mil relationship, I think, is strong, and we wanted to keep it that way. We do many things, in missile-defense, in exercises at sea, in port visits, and the Turkish navy is extremely professional, and as a force, a fighting force, we want them on our team, and we're happy that they're on our team.
And as far as the other things going on in the exercise, I think I pretty much told you everything about it. As it unfolds here from the 15th -- or, from the 25th of October -- 15th up in Iceland, to the end of the exercise on the seventh, the only thing I haven't told you is we'll do a big demonstration on the 30th of October, which will be our amphibious landing and an opportunity for partner nations to send some of their key leaders to see their forces afloat, come ashore, and establish the beachhead and move inland.
So the other thing that I want to foot-stomp is the total defense concept. That's kind of unique. So I don't know of other countries in the alliance where, you know, pretty much every Norwegian has been a conscript at one time or another. They've had some military training. And this is a real benefit to us, because we've got a lot of stuff going ashore. I've got about 10 percent of the force, or 12 percent of the force there now, out of the 45,000. Over the next three weeks, a lot of things are going to arrive. That means offloading in -- in ports, running on rail and running on roads, and as the weather gets a little bit more difficult and the traffic picks up, it's important that we have the support of the Norwegian people, which I know we do. And so those stevedores will be on the piers helping us get our stuff and our kit ashore.
And the other thing I'll tell you is, you know, one of the -- the favorite stories I like to tell is we had 300 Marines in Vaernes. We have doubled that number. It's around 700 now, and when the commandant and the command sergeant major of the Marine Corps were up there recently, somebody said something about the size of the force, you know. "Gee, 300 Marines.” Well, you know, I was always told that two Marines and an M-16 equals a MAGTF, a marine amphibious ground task force. You know, the Marines like saying that. They're gung-ho. Command sergeant major goes, "Yeah, 300 today, 3,000 tomorrow, and you can take that to the bank," and he's right.
We can move stuff quickly, and that -- that's what it's all about. So that logistics piece and the ability to show that we can go places, and we can be dynamic in our force employment, that's a message we're going to drive home. So those are some of the key things that I'd like you to take away from -- from that, and hopefully, some of you will be able to join us up there.
Q: Thank you.
ADM. FOGGO: Thank you, and thank you all very much for your time today. It's been a real pleasure, and I look forward to trying to do this again in future. I'm not back here that much because I love where I am. I love my job. I wake up every day, and I pinch myself. Being a NATO commander and a U.S. commander with the professional people that I have has been a real pleasure. And it's not like we don't have challenges and problems. I'm a nuke, so nukes like to try to solve challenges and problems, and I particularly like working inside an alliance, where you need to achieve consensus, and it takes a little bit of diplomacy to do that. And I really think that your Navy is an extended arm of diplomacy, and it hasn't changed since the time of John Paul Jones.
So thanks for coming. Take a brochure. There's more stuff in there. Also, you can figure out what I'm reading. Every time I see Jim Stavridis, he says, "What are you reading?" So I got to have -- I've got to have a couple of books that are out there that I'm reading, and "War in 140 Characters" is one of them. And Singer's got another one out called "Like War” I just got it out of my Kindle. It's supposed to be the same thing, and the war in -- in social media, and the battlespace that you all operate in every day, which is so important.
So thank you. Thank you, Colonel.
COL. MANNING: Thank you.
ADM. FOGGO: I appreciate your staff, too.
COL. MANNING: We appreciate your time today.
ADM. FOGGO: All right, terrific. Thanks.
COL. MANNING: Ladies and gentlemen, if you have any follow-up questions, please contact Captain Rick Haupt or our team at Defense Press Operations. Thanks again for your time and patience today.