SEPTEMBER 28, 2020 – The Honorable Gregory J. Slavonic made his first international trip Sep. 23-26 while serving as the acting Under Secretary of the Navy.
Slavonic traveled to Denmark and Portugal, where he engaged with senior defense and military officials, identifying opportunities for the Department of the Navy (DoN) to enhance interoperability and increase cooperative efforts.
“NATO promotes democratic values and diplomacy, builds trust and, in the long run, prevents conflict,” said Slavonic. “This is my first opportunity to travel to Europe and visit with our NATO friends and allies on how the Navy and Marine Corps can work together in the best interests of our respective countries.”
In Denmark, the secretary met with senior Danish officials including Permanent Secretary of State for Defense Morten Baek, Deputy Permanent Secretary of State for Defense Kasper Hoeg-Jensen and the head of the Danish Navy, Chief of Naval Staff Rear Adm. Torben Mikkelsen.
The secretary joined Mikkelsen and additional members of the Royal Danish Navy during a visit to Korsør Naval Base, where he toured the Danish frigate HDMS Niels Juel (F363) and enriched his knowledge about the Danish navy’s fleet, capabilities, priorities and current efforts.
Slavonic continued key leader engagements in Portugal, meeting with Portuguese civilian and military leaders including the Minister of Defense Joᾶo Gomes Cravinho, the Portuguese Chief of Defense Adm. Antonio Ribeiro, and the head of the Portuguese Navy Adm. Antonio Calado.
The last stop during the secretary’s visit to Portugal was to Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), headquartered in Lisbon since 2012.
STRIKFORNATO, comprised of a Maritime Battle Staff from eleven nations, is a rapidly deployable and scalable headquarters capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations in support of Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
“We were proud to showcase STRIKFORNATO to Secretary Slavonic while he was here in Portugal,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brig Gen Marcus Annibale, STRIKFORNATO Chief of Staff. “We are a maritime crisis response headquarters by design, with 50 talented U.S. Marines and Sailors on deck and fully integrated into a cohesive and highly capable NATO team in support of the alliance. Our staff and capabilities contribute directly to our mandate to provide standing deterrence; we are ready on short notice, to defend from the sea and win.”
During his visits to both maritime nations, the secretary engaged with U.S. embassy personnel, including U.S. Ambassador to Portugal, the Honorable George Glass, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in both countries and Marines assigned to the Embassy Security Group in the two locations.
“This trip identified ways in which the DoN can deepen our bilateral efforts,” said Slavonic. “Sustaining and strengthening our ties with our allies is instrumental in ensuring our strategic advantage on defense and security-related issues.”
From LT Ashley E. Nekoui