RIO DE JANEIRO –
More than 5,500 military personnel from 19 partner nations kicked off UNITAS LXIII (63) during an opening ceremony Sept. 8, 2022.
The year’s exercise includes 19 warships/vessels, one submarine, and 21 aircraft from UNITAS participants including, 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, 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,” said Rear Adm. Marcelo Menezes Cardoso, Commander of the 1st Division Squadron for the Brazilian Navy and who will serve as UNITAS Commander Task Group 138.20, “New threats to the seas have demanded a renewed effort of cooperation among our navies.”
Prior to the start of UNITAS LXIII, participating nations had the opportunity to participate in cultural exchanges, sporting events and community relations projects as part of the host country’s bicentennial events, including the Bicentennial Naval Parade of Ships, which took place Sept. 7 along the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
Following the opening ceremony, the ships will head to sea to conduct combined and joint operations as a multinational task force, executing event-driven scenarios that will maximize opportunities to enhance collaboration and improve interoperability.
“I would like to express my pride in being part of this team and express my appreciation for all those present,” said Cardoso. “I invite everyone to take advantage of this opportunity, sometimes only once in a lifetime, to make friends, learn, and reinforce the ties that exist between us and 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.
U.S. forces participating in UNITAS LXIII include USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Albany (SSN 753), Commander, Amphibious Squadron Eight (COMPHIBRON 8), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 (HSC 22), Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70 Detachment 2 (HSM 70 Det 2), Patrol Squadron Sixteen (VP-16), Special Boat Team 22 (SBT 22), Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) Det 2, Seal Platoon from Seal Team 8, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two (EODMU-2), Beachmaster Unit Two (BMU-2), USCG Pacific Area Tactical Law Enforcement Team (PAC AREA TACLET), Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40, (COMDESRON 40), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, 25th Marine Regiment, 3d Battalion 25th Marine Regiment, 3d Force Reconnaissance Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Company (4th LAR), 4th Combat Engineer Battalion (4th CEB), 6th Engineer Support Battalion (6th ESB), 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), 4th Civil Affairs Group (4th CAG), Marine Aircraft Group 49 (MAG-49), U.S Marine Corps Forces South (MARFORSOUTH), and USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT.
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.
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South is the Marine Corps component to U.S. Southern Command, is responsible for planning exercises, operation, and overall Marine Corps support for the SOUTHCOM assigned area of responsibility.