Brazil, headquarters of the 63rd edition of Operation UNITAS

U.S. Marines from Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 773, 4th Marine Air Wing, Marine Corps Forces Reserve in support of Air Task Force- Special Purpose Marine Corps Ground Corps UNITAS LXIII, conduct flight operations in Rio de Janeiro, during exercise UNITAS LXIII, on September 12, 2022. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Jonathon Gonzalez)

From September 8 to 22, Brazil hosted the 63rd edition of Operation UNITAS, which brought together twenty countries. The naval exercise is promoted annually by the Southern Command of the United States in different countries of America in a rotating system, and is considered the oldest in continuity in the world, since 1959. The operation aims to strengthen the bonds of friendly cooperation between the participating navies, enhancing the ability of naval forces to achieve common goals, conduct joint maritime operations, and develop greater interoperability among participants.

The maritime exercises were carried out between the southern coasts of Rio de Janeiro and Espiritu Santo, in the southeastern region. In addition to Brazil, Belize, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, South Korea, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, France, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay participated in this edition. . In total, UNITAS brought together 5,500 military personnel, 12 Brazilian and 8 foreign ships, as well as 21 planes and helicopters. For the first time, African ships crossed the Atlantic to participate in the exercises.

Among the modern equipment used by the US Navy were the Bell AH-1Z Viper and Bell UH-1Y Venom helicopters, both aboard the destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), as well as a Boeing P -8 Poseidon. The US fleet also included the amphibious transport ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and the Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine USS Albany (SSN 753).

“This nation is witnessing at this time the coming together of various navies and coast guards from various regions of the world. Today, more than ever, we can experience this comforting feeling of friendship and togetherness, which makes me have even more faith in the potential of our navies, as instruments to promote cooperation among nations, in the interest of peace, security and prosperity for all”, said Admiral Almir Garnier Santos, commander of the Brazilian Navy.

UNITAS brought together 5,500 military personnel, 12 Brazilian and 8 foreign ships, in addition to 21 planes and helicopters. (Photo: Brazilian Navy)

UNITAS consists of two phases, port and maritime. The first took place shortly after the arrival of the multinational forces in Brazil, and included cultural exchange activities, sporting events, and community projects in relation to the civilian public. The second phase, which began on September 10, was divided into three other phases: training in naval operations, maritime security, and search and rescue. The first was preparation, in which exercises were carried out on surface, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft actions, electronic warfare, and maritime interdiction operations; in the second there were exercises specifically related to maritime security; and in the last phase, a civilian rescue drill was carried out, through an amphibious incursion on Itaoca beach, in Espirito Santo.

“Hoy [16 de septiembre] more than 1,000 soldiers from the Brazilian Navy and from 11 other countries disembarked. Previously, the special operations teams, members of the Multinational Combined Special Operations Force, commanded by the Naval Special Operations Command [CoNavOpEsp]They stayed at strategic points. This Force had 158 special operators, including marines and combat divers from Brazil, Ecuador, the United States, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, who carried out support operations aimed at enabling the landing of the Attack Force,” said General of Brazilian Marine Corps Division Claudio Eduardo Silva Dias, Naval Commander of Special Operations.

“Since 2008, UNITAS has been celebrated with an amphibious phase. This inclusion demonstrates the importance that the Brazilian Navy attaches to the preparation of its forces, to carry out humanitarian and disaster relief operations. One of the important contributions of this type of training is the learning experience we had in humanitarian aid to Haiti,” explained UNITAS Commander Rear Admiral Marcelo Menezes Cardoso, Commander of the 1st Marine Division.

For United States Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, the two weeks of intense exercises included complex operations on the high seas, testing the capacity for joint international action, which requires coordination in all areas.

“Success in this type of mission requires constant communication, multilateral cooperation and, most importantly, trust; confidence in the capacity and decisions of our navies and our nations”, concluded the secretary.

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