The Navy has created a new task force to address ballistic missile defense and integrated air and missile defense in the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility.
Commander, Task Force Sixty Four (CTF 64) out of Naples, Italy, will address the growth in these mission areas by providing a “captain level commander for maritime units focused on BMD and Aegis Ashore and a Navy component planning staff to support the Area Air Defense Commander,” according to a July 23 memo.
The task force will stand up on October 1 and report to U.S. 6th Fleet. Its mission is “to execute operational and tactical integrated air and missile defense including mission planning, execution, operational and tactical control of assigned units for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/U.S. Naval Forces Africa, U.S. Sixth Fleet and to provide direct support for BMD planning,” according to the memo.
The task force’s creation comes as the Navy has sent its third Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense-equipped destroyer to Rota, Spain, and is preparing to send the fourth this fall. The four ships, from their European homeport, will dedicate their time to both routine missions like partnership-building exercises as well as missile defense patrols on behalf of the United States and NATO. An advance team has already deployed to the first Aegis Ashore missile defense site in Romania, and the second site in Poland will be operational in 2018.
The task force will help organize air and missile defense and ballistic missile defense missions as forces in the region continue to grow through the rest of the decade.
Creation of CTF-64 comes as Russian forces have stepped up air patrols since the seizure of the Crimean region of Ukraine in 2014.