US Navy carrier group leads major NATO exercise in the Mediterranean as tensions with Russia simmer

The USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group will participate in a NATO exercise in the Mediterranean Sea starting Monday amid simmering tensions over Russia amassing troops along its border with Ukraine, chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has announced.

According to Stars and Stripes, neither Kirby nor Navy officials would specify what elements of the strike group would participate alongside the aircraft carrier, though the ship was operating last month with the guided-missile destroyers USS Banbridge, USS Cole, USS Gravely and USS Jason Dunham.

“[The exercise is] designed to demonstrate NATO's ability to integrate the highest maritime strike capabilities of an aircraft carrier strike group to support the deterrence and defence of the alliance,” Kirby said during a news briefing at the Pentagon.

Though it comes at a time when NATO-Russian tensions are running high as Russia continues to surge troops along its border with Ukraine, Kirby said NATO allies have been planning the exercise, dubbed Neptune Strike 2022, for about two years.

“It wasn't planned back in 2020 anticipating a Russian move on Ukraine and … the exercise itself is not designed against the kinds of scenarios that that might happen with respect to Ukraine,” he said.

Still, Kirby did not say why NATO members decided to continue with the exercise given the tensions with Russia.

We constantly look at exercises and training and ask ourselves … do we really need to do it now? Should we speed it up? Should we shorten it?” he said. “There was due consideration given about tensions right now about our exercise posture and after all that consideration and discussion with our NATO allies, the decision was made to move ahead.”

The strike group will operate under NATO’s control during the exercise, which will run through February 4th Kirby said. Militaries from other NATO members will join the U.S. “in coordinated maritime maneuvers, anti-submarine warfare training and long-rang strike training” during Neptune Strike, though Kirby declined to specify what other nations will participate.

“All of the training events will highlight the continuing steady progression of alliance cohesion in a high-end and dynamic environment,” he said.

Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley -

Follow EU Today on Social media:

EUToday Correspondents

EUToday Correspondents

Our team of independent correspondents, based across Europe and beyond, are at the centre of geopolitical dynamics. We are united by our commitment to free and unbiased journalism, and our devotion to the concept of true and unfettered democracy. We take our job very seriously!

Related posts