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News | Dec. 12, 2023

U.S. 4th Fleet’s Maritime Synchronization Symposium: Focus on China and Scaling the Hybrid Fleet


U.S. Navy Attachés and U.S. Navy Section Chiefs serving in partner nations in the Caribbean, Central and South America gathered at Naval Station Mayport Dec. 5-8, 2023, for the annual U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Maritime Synchronization Symposium.

This year’s symposium featured four guest speakers, expert panels, and question-and-answer sessions for the region’s Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) to discuss mutual challenges and opportunities, get the latest information on strategy, operations and exercises, and learn more about the Navy’s strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China and U.S. 4th Fleet’s campaign to inform the hybrid fleet.

The first guest speaker was Ambassador James Story, who most recently served as U.S. Ambassador for the Venezuela Affairs Unit, located at the United States Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, and is currently a State Department Fellow at Georgetown University. Other guest speakers included Dr. Miles Yu, Professor of East Asia and Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Lt. Gen. David Bellon, Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve and U.S. Marine Corps Forces South, and Mr. Chris Diaz, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro’s Chief of Staff.

“We brought in dynamic speakers who gave our Navy Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) much to think about as they return to their respective countries,” said Cmdr. Stephanie Lastinger, U.S. 4th Fleet Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) Director. “They serve on the front lines of strategic competition, and are successfully advancing American interests abroad.”

Participants were able to learn more about and provide input to staffers planning the upcoming Southern Seas and Continuing Promise deployments, which will feature USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10) deploying to the region next year. They also heard from Cmdr. David Edwards, U.S. 4th Fleet’s Technology and Innovation Director, who briefed Operation Windward Stack, the Fleet’s current operation in the Caribbean.

We are operationalizing technology in a campaign of learning where sometimes we win and sometimes we learn,” said Cmdr. Edwards. “We are sharing our results with the other fleets already and look forward to integrating hybrid fleet information with our partners.”

“This year’s symposium provided all of our FAOs, service providers, and stakeholders an opportunity to spend time together and develop relationships which will help them get better as members of their
respective U.S. country teams,” said Rear Adm. Rich Lofgren, USNAVSOUTH/FOURTHFLT Reserve Vice Commander. “We know the critical work our FAOs perform in making the U.S. the maritime partner of choice in the Caribbean, Central and South America.”

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.

Learn more about USNAVSOUTH/4th Fleet at, and @NAVSOUS4THFLT.
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