AUKLAND, New Zealand (Sep. 18, 2017) Members of the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand navies pose for a photograph at the Navy Marae at the Maritime Warfare Center Forum (MWCF) at the Devonport Naval Base. Participants at the five-day long forum exchanged ideas and worked together to increase interoperability and combat effectiveness. (DoD photo by Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn, Royal New Zealand Navy/Released)
Allied Navies Meet in New Zealand to Strengthen Maritime Warfighting Capabilities

DEVONPORT, New Zealand (NNS) – Officers from the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) participated in the Maritime Warfare Centers Forum (MWCF) at Devonport Naval Base, New Zealand, Sept. 18 - 22.

Approximately 75 attendees from five allied nations - the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – took part in the five-day forum to discuss ways to improve their maritime interoperability and combat effectiveness.

“The Maritime Warfare Centers Forum was an excellent opportunity to meet our counterparts and share information,” said Capt. Christopher Barnes, the deputy commander for SMWDC and lead officer for the U.S. Navy delegation. “It is critical that we continue to sharpen our tactics through collaboration with our allied partners.”

The U.S. delegation met with their military and civilian counterparts to develop ways to effectively operate together and share information at sea, and included representatives from the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (OPNAV N2N6), SMWDC, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Naval Air Warfighting Development Center, Information Warfighting Development Center, Office of Naval Research, Office of Naval Intelligence, and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1.

"The Royal New Zealand Navy regards the Maritime Warfare Centers Forum as a critical enabler for building the relationships and facilitating the exchange of information which allows us to provide the latest tactics and procedures to our maritime combat forces; and as a genuine force multiplier for all members,” said Commodore Jim Gilmour, the Royal New Zealand Navy Maritime Component Commander. “For the New Zealand participants it was extremely satisfying from both a professional and personal perspective to be able to host this year's MWCF. Admiral William McRaven, USN said, ‘You can't surge trust.’ The work that goes on through the MWCF both at the annual meeting and in consultations, phone calls and e-mails throughout the year helps ensure that all our maritime warfighters have that trust built into every line and button push of their tactics and procedures."

The forum was broken into seven unique warfare areas, called syndicates. The seven warfare syndicates (Anti-Air Warfare, Amphibious Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Aviation, Information Warfare, Mine Warfare, and Surface Warfare) each developed strategies to address this year’s theme of “The Roles of Escorts,” which refers the role combatant surface ships play when operating in a Strike Group or Task Group.

The members also reviewed previous years’ action items to ensure each allied nation maximized the knowledge, expertise and time involved at the forum. During the conference, participants reconciled 50 action items from previous years and identified 46 new action items for consideration. These actions ranged from simple items such as developing and sharing a tactical memorandum, to broad reaching items such as participating in future at-sea exercises.

Partner nations also discussed their plans to commit more of their ships to serve as escorts for U.S. Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups, the return of British aircraft carrier deployments, as well as future deployments of Australian amphibious platforms.

“As HMS Queen Elizabeth II becomes operational, the work done at the MWCF will enable participants to operate as a Task Force,” said Barnes. “Interoperability will continue to be the crux of expanding our ability to project sea power and maintain sea control as a coalition, and as such, the MWCF will continue to be the catalyst to achieving that goal.”

The location for the MWCF rotates annually between the participating nations and is scheduled to take place in San Diego in 2018.

SMWDC is located at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California. The command’s mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. Its four lines of operation are advanced tactical training, doctrine and tactical guidance development, operational support to combatant commanders, numbered fleet commanders, and task force commanders, and capabilities assessments, experimentation and future requirements.

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