|Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO|
Coat of arms
|Active||1 July 2004–present|
|Allegiance||North Atlantic Treaty Organization|
|Commander||Vice Admiral Eugene H. Black III, USN|
|Deputy Commander||Rear Admiral Guy A. Robinson, OBE RN|
Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) is the principal naval service command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Allied Command Operations (ACO), replacing Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe (STRIKFORSOUTH). STRIKFORNATO is commanded by Commander United States Sixth Fleet, and it is the only command capable of leading an expanded maritime task force.
In December 1952, Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH) ordered the establishment of a new command titled, Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe as a principal subordinate commander under CINCSOUTH.
The command was a dual assignment for the vice admiral commanding the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The STRIKFORSOUTH staff was initially composed principally of U.S. Navy personnel because forces earmarked for STRIKFORSOUTH were from the U.S. Other allied personnel from France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the United Kingdom came on board to better mesh with other Mediterranean NATO commanders in planning and conducting exercises and training. Its area of responsibility (AOR) was the entire Mediterranean theater, from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Easter Mediterranean and Black Sea.
In 1953 the command set up shore spaces at the NATO AFSOUTH complex in the Neapolitan neighborhood of Bagnoli which had been one of the Fascist regime's public housing architectural showcases. Its staff occupied the top floor of one of the four main subordinate buildings on the main quadrangle.
Throughout the Cold War, STRIKFORSOUTH was the command most likely to deal with any sudden emergencies in the Southern Region. In charge of NATO Carrier Aviation and amphibious forces, its primary mission in all out war would be to participate in NATO's counter-offensive by launching deep conventional air attacks or close air support missions in conjunction with any amphibious operations. As the Soviet naval build-up in the Mediterranean progressed through the 1960s and 1970s, STRIKFORSOUTH served as a major advisor to Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in the area of Nuclear Strike Planning. The command honed its readiness through these years by planning and conducting semi-annual large-scale NATO amphibious exercises as well as numerous small-scale exercises in various disciplines.
STRIKFORSOUTH coordinated NATO support for the security of the lines of supply through the Mediterranean for Coalition forces during Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM in 1990 and 1991. The end of the Cold War failed to end STRIKFORSOUTH's mission as the threat from the Soviet Union was replaced by threats from civil and ethnic wars in the Balkans, Middle East and on the African continent. As a result, STRIKFORSOUTH was directly responsible in developing and refining the Multinational Amphibious Task Force (MNATF) concept.
The conflict in the Balkans saw STRIKFORSOUTH contributing planning support and liaison officers to AFSOUTH operations. This led to the establishment of the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre in the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia by STRIKFORSOUTH personnel. COMSTRIKFORSOUTH assumed command of NATO Carrier Forces during Operation ALLIED FORCE.
Main article: Exercise Trident Juncture 2018
From 25 October to 7 November 2018, STRIKFORNATO deployed on board USS Mount Whitney—Afloat Command Platform (ACP) of STRIKFORNATO—and performed in its role as a NATO Expanded Task Force (NETF) providing command and control of multiple strike groups which included II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2nd MEB), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU), Expeditionary Strike Group 2 (ESG 2), a Canadian/British Surface Action Group, a Norwegian Surface Action Group and mine countermeasures assets, a Norwegian submarine, and Carrier Strike Group 8 USS Harry S. Truman for a limited duration of exercise control. STRIKFORNATO commanded more than 20 ships operating in the North and Norwegian seas and troops ashore in Norway. This exercise "tests NATO's collective response to an armed attack against one ally, invoking Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty" which states that "an armed attack against one or more of [the Parties] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all."
COMSTRIKFORSOUTH 50th Anniversary (1953-2003)