The U.S. military has sent the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier strike group to take part in a NATO naval exercise in the Mediterranean amid tensions between the west and Russia, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson announced Friday.
Neptune Strike 22 exercises, which are set to begin Monday and run through Feb. 4, will “demonstrate NATO’s ability to integrate the high-end maritime strike capabilities of an aircraft carrier strike group to support the deterrence and defense of the alliance,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters.
He added that the strike group, along with several other NATO allies he did not name, “will participate in coordinated maritime maneuvers, anti-submarine warfare training, and long-range strike training.”
Kirby insisted the wargames had been “long-planned,” since 2020, and were not in response to the recent Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border, though the drills are not listed on NATO’s website amongst exercises slated for this year.
Shortly after the DOD announcement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg added to speculation as to the timing of the maneuver when he tweeted that “NATO will always do what is necessary to protect and defend all Allies.”
He added that the participation of the U.S. vessel in Neptune Strike 22 displays “a strong sign of transatlantic unity.”
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