Home » Aviation » Foggo: U.S. Needs More Forward Presence in Mediterranean Sea

Foggo: U.S. Needs More Forward Presence in Mediterranean Sea

A wave crashes over the forecastle of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64) while underway in the Mediterranean Sea on Jan. 22, 2018. US Navy Photo

The Eastern Mediterranean is becoming “one of the most kinetic areas in the world,” as the U.S., NATO, Russia and China operate more and more in the crowded region, the Navy’s top officer in Europe said on Tuesday.

Adm. James Foggo, who oversees Allied Joint Force Command and United States Naval Forces Europe and Africa, said the expansion of the Russian naval base at Tartus, Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad and China’s first overseas base in Djibouti as part of its global initiative to expand its influence globally are partially fueling the expansion.

The 86-day deployment of the Russia carrier Kuznetsov is another sign, “they’re not going to leave.”
The Kremlin has also dispatched improved Kiloclass attack boats to Tartus to back Assad loyalist and Russian forces with cruise missiles.

Foggo noted that allies and partners in Europe have become increasingly interested in integrated air and missile defenses as Moscow has ramped up operations not only in the Mediterranean, including firing cruise missiles on targets in Syria, but also presence patrols in the Baltic and North Atlantic to demonstrate its area denial capability to NATO and its non-member partners like Sweden and Finland.

The allies and partners have recognized the value of the four Aegis guided-missile destroyers based out of Rota, Spain, in providing that defense.

“We need more of these ships,” Foggo said.
“We need more forward presence.”

US Navy image of a Russian Su-27 fighter closing in on a EP-3E surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea on Jan. 29, 2017.

In his remarks and in answer to questions, Foggo referred to the late January intercept of a Navy P-3C Orion flying over international waters in the Black Sea by a Russian Su-27. The fighter flew within five-feet of the reconnaissance aircraft before the pilot turned on the aircraft’s afterburners as he flew away violently rocking the P-3.

“We expect at any time they will intercept, [but] we expect they will be done safely and professionally.” He said the latest incident and earlier ones that the United States described as provocative and dangerous will be the subject of discussions with the Russians on air and maritime safety.

“It’s our job to de-escalate,” which is NATO’s mission to deter and defend, Foggo said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We don’t go looking for a fight,” he said.

But “if we have to defend [ourselves under rules of engagement], by God, we will use them.” He said the United States and the alliance operates in the air and at sea under international law covering freedom of navigation and transit.

Using Serbia as an example of a shift in international relations and its negotiations with Russia, he said, “There is a move more toward bilateralism and that’s OK. …That’s something we’ve got to deal with and is certainly within their rights.” He said the United States is still involved in the Western Balkans and other areas where the Russians and Chinese are showing their flags.

Turning to Turkey, a NATO member, which also is negotiating with Russia particularly on what happens next in the civil war in Syria, “It’s critical that continue to talk [with Ankara to understand] their security concerns, their security interests.”

Foggo added it is important to NATO that Turkey “remains a strong ally in the alliance,” and he sees “no issues” in military-to-military relations. As to the political questions over authoritarianism of the government, future of the Kurds and Syria, “we’ll leave that to the folks in Brussels,” NATO’s headquarters, he said.

  • Ed L

    Ffgx is 6 years away. The Navy could have 20 built in 4 to 5 years) of The proposed HII design—called the FF4923, which is based on the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter (number 8 still under construction), would be a long-endurance patrol frigate that could potentially offer greater combat capabilities as well as range and endurance for a lower price. In terms of sensors and weapons, the HII FF4923 would be well furnished. It would include a 3D rotating phased array radar, an EO/IR sensor, passive ECM, hull-mounted sonar and towed-array or variable depth sonar. It would be armed with a Mk-41 vertical launch system with 16 cells capable of carrying the Standard SM-2 and RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile. It would also be equipped with ASROC anti-submarine rockets, eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a single triple torpedo launcher and a 76mm gun. HII officials said that their frigate design could be a directly replacement for the now retired Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate that was mainstay of the Navy’s fleet for decades. 4,675 metric ton design that is 418-feet long and a beam of 54-feet. The vessel would have a crew size of 121 sailors and would have a range of more than 8,000 nautical miles or more than 60 days. Power would come from a pair of 9,655shp diesels and 30,565shp gas turbine—giving the ship a top speed of just above 28 knots.

    • Nick

      The HII FF4923 is at this moment just a powerpoint /video presentation as all other contenders for the FFG(X)

      Ships built by HII are costly, Dec. 2016 HII rec’d $486 million USCG contract to build the ninth NSC, whereas Eastern Shipbuilding priced the new USCG Offshore Patrol Cutter at $264.4 million, both contracts exclude GFE. NSC ~4,600T v.OPC ~3,600T, cost per T – $105.6 thousand per ton v $73.4 thousand per ton, so HII are ~ 44% more expensive than ships built by Eastern Shipbuilding.

      The above is as realistic cost comparison as you can obtain as same contracting agency with same terms and conditions, with the exception that Eastern Shipbuilding priced based on multi year buy whereas HII on one off.

  • kye154

    “U.S. Needs More Forward Presence in Mediterranean Sea”… Don’t see any of our NATO allies supporting that idea, nor anyone else in the Mediterranean. The U.S. wore out its welcome there after our debacle in Libya in 2011, and the Syrian refugee problems that emerged since that time. The general consensus there is, America should leave.

    • muzzleloader

      So according to you the US has no business in the South China Sea. You have also stated the US has no business in the Black Sea. And now you are saying the US had no business in the Med?

      • Wither truth

        New military base in SCS from which our likely future adversary can launch attacks against our Pacific Islands.

        What military threat to the US exists in the Med? Thanks to new domestic oil production, the strategic importance of the Suez has diminished drastically.

        • Ed L

          NATO countries in the Med usually only operate in waters near their countries. The many years I spent in the med as a member of the 6th fleet. We would rarely Spain or French ships east of Italy, Italy ships never east of Greece and west of Sardinia. Turkish ships state east of Greece, Greek ships west of Greece and east of Sicily. With a few exceptions that had UN backing

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Doesn’t matter where they usually operate. They can operate wherever they want in the med whenever they need to and have very capable ships to do so.. we don’t have to be everywhere at great expense.

          • Wither truth


            We really need to prioritize the strategic threat from China (and their proxy NK) along with the Russians over endless conflict in the M.E., including the Med.

          • Rocco

            Agreed & I was there 3 times!

      • kye154

        If the Navy were only to give a good justification as to why it is there, beyond its own self-serving role, like “rights to navigation”. If you and I, as taxpayers, are going to spend badly needed money on these little ventures in far flung areas of the world, which we have little vested interest in protecting, and detracts from the needs of our own country, wouldn’t you like to know what this all really about?

        • Marcd30319

          Freedom of navigation is hardly self-serving while illegally claiming international waters as one’s own territorial waters is. Listening to one’s Gaddafi, old-timer?

          Beside, those four Burke-class DDGs are the heart of the European Phased Adaptive Approach which, from a European POV, is preferable to having a large land-based ABM site that the Russian can target.

        • Rocco

          Go home Liberal!!

        • El Kabong

          Russia has no business in the Crimea and Ukraine.

    • Curtis Conway

      Is that in FACT the case. What is the intelligence on this? I think the opposite is true, specifically in the East-Med. As the BMD capable DDG-51 Flt IIIs start coming on line, they will be in great demand . . . EVERYWHERE.

      • kye154

        Well, probably from our perspective that might be true. But, from the bordering countries that surround the Med, they would prefer that both Russia and the U.S. would leave entirely. Where does this intel come from? EUCOM, where those countries have lodged their complaints.

        • Rocco

          That’s your unsubstantiated claims!!

        • Curtis Conway

          If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. REALITY is where the US foreign presence must live, not what we WISHED was reality. The wisdom and validity of a USN SSK force reveals itself multiple times a week now. Will we wake up? Sure I would like an all Nuc Sub Force, but that is unaffordable. Every exercise we had with the SSK and conventional submarines demonstrated their utility. The Collins Class could probably use our help in its design, but I think the Japanese Super Soryu Class is a better bet.

        • El Kabong

          “…they would prefer that both Russia and the U.S. would leave entirely.”?


          YOU talked to them?


      • Pacemaker4

        Turkey going to stay in NATO is the question.

        • Curtis Conway

          Turkey has turned into something else under its current leadership. They plan to buy Russian/Chinese missiles for a reason. Perhaps we should trump (pun intended) the offer, and just offer an Aegis Ashore in country. That would really upset the Russians.

          • publius_maximus_III

            “They plan to buy /Russian/Chinese missiles for a reason…”

            Why, the better to shoot down more Russian MIGs violating their airspace, of course. 😉

          • Curtis Conway

            I wonder if we can get a system for the range in the Western US. or is it already there? (tongue in cheek)

          • Pacemaker4

            hehe, USS John McCain maybe?

    • homey

      you sound like a paid Kremlin troll…

      • Marcd30319

        He claims to be a retired Navy vet from the Vietnam War with over 20 years in, and after allegedly receiving advanced degree, works at the DOD, with retirement in 2019 after over 20 years. Truly we have a legend in our midst.

        Of course, in spy trade-craft, legend is a fictitious biography that an agent uses, so who can say?

        • muzzleloader

          Yes, he has a bio that puts him in the league of Einstein and Hawking. After reading his numerous threads on many USNI articles, you are left with the conclusion that Kye believes that the USN has no business on any body of water except Lake Erie.

          • Marcd30319

            Maybe not even that. Canada borders Lake Erie.

            He might not have a problem with Lake Michigan…

        • Rocco


        • El Kabong

          Don’t forget his disturbing obsession with Leroy…. 😉

          • Marcd30319

            Covert bromance?

          • El Kabong

            More like a creepy obsession.
            I hope Leroy got a TRO on him.

          • muzzleloader

            Ok, I gotta ask. Who is Leroy?

          • El Kabong

            He’s another commenter, and kye likes to stalk him.
            Childish, personal attacks that just got flagged.

      • Rocco

        & some other things!!

    • PolicyWonk

      Our debacle in Libya? You mean the one in which we were in a supporting role at the request of our NATO allies? The one the GOP complained that Obama was “leading from behind?”.

      A pathetic flea bite in the grand scheme of things, especially given the historic foreign policy disaster we imposed on ourselves (at a global level) recently by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (perhaps you forgot about it, or did your radar simply its this one?). This is such a stunning (and self-imposed) diplomatic disaster, thats been vilified on a global level as it completely destroyed any diplomatic credibility the United States ever had in the Middle East, that its indeed astonishing you’d even bring up a relatively minor screw-up on Obama’s part as a major reason why the US should expand our forces there.

      We can agree that Obama was a mediocre POTUS: but you could total all of his foreign policy blunders together and you wouldn’t even get to a decent fraction of this one (let alone the ultra dumb Invasion of Iraq, or the never ending “nation-building” exercise in Afghanistan), and thats after two full terms in office.

      Regarding the topic at hand, if the USN hadn’t wasted tens of billions of dollars on useless slip-queens hiding under the moniker of “littoral combat ship”, we might have some decent FFG’s that could’ve lightened the load for our Burkes. Failing that, maybe in the long range plan the Med Fleet can be bolstered with some new sea-frames.

      Lamentably, with the loss of two ships in the Pacific that won’t be back in service for a bunch of months, getting more soon or transferring some assets isn’t likely in the cards.

    • Chesapeakeguy

      Do tell: they hate us so much that they are willing to risk life and limb to COME HERE! Ain’t that the case?

  • MarlineSpikeMate

    And Russia is saying they need to be in Cuba again I’m sure.. This is not de-escalatatory. Lets not make the cold war happen again for no reason.

    • kye154

      Well said!

    • Rocco


  • Marcd30319

    In 2009, President Obama cancelled the installation of a long-range ABM interceptor site in Poland and a long-range radar site in the Czech Republic similar to those we have in Alaska and California, presumably in reaction to Russian continuing objections and a threatened deployment of Iskander missiles near Kaliningrad.

    The EPAA initially involved the deployment of BMD-capable destroyers as an immediate and deployable alternative.

    Aegis Ashore facilities with Standard missile were added later. While very capable, these facilities do not compare to the original long-range ABM sites that were initially considered.

    In any case, the destroyers have one advantage over any fixed land-base site — mobility independent of any sovereignty issues.

    Have a nice day at work.

    • Rocco

      Kudos good show!!

    • rex

      There is a lot of malarkey on the USNI boards. To set the record straight, the EIS was cancelled in 2009 by O’bummer, but subsequently replaced with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which will include SM-3 Block IIA interceptors. They are being readied for deployment in Poland this year. Same with the Czech-Republic. So, what Marc30319 says is a bit dated, and what Kye154 says is correct. I am one of the contractors at Redzikowo to know this.

      • Marcd30319

        So how am I dated if I was correct about the cancellation of EIS, and noted the installation of Aegis Ashore? In any case, the initial deployment of BMD assets involved Burke-class destroyers.

  • Pacemaker4

    Especially if Turkey decides to leave NATO.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    No, the US doesn’t need to deploy more assets and people to Europe at enormous expense.

    The Med is already full to the brim with NATO assets.

    The USA’s large bases in Spain and Italy are more than sufficient.

    • USNVO

      One could argue they are too large. Once the AEGIS ashore is operational, we should bring the 4 DDGs home and let our NATO “allies” take responsibility. What is the threat?

      1. Russia’s only carrier was in the Med but is now in the shipyard, probably until 2025 or later. Nope not a threat.

      2. China has a small logistics base in Djibouti, over a thousand miles and on the wrong side of the Suez Canal from the Med. OMG panic! Sorry, not a threat.

      3. There is a Russian Naval base in Syria. This is a strategic concern to both the Turkish straits and the Suez Canal. Economically, that means squat to the US and a huge concern for Europe. Good thing our NATO allies navies are only like 10x larger than the Russian Navy. Not the US’s problem, let them deal with it. Outside of a vested interest in Syria not using WMDs and periodically bombing ISIS back to the Stone Age,which can be dealt with US based forces, not really a concern.

      4. Isreal is a concern, the US continues to support them. But, from a naval standpoint, not a reason to keep 4 DDGs in the Med, let alone increasing the numbers. From Norfolk it is 12 days to Israel, from Rota it is still 5. CONUS Based forces can respond almost as fast, a six month deployment from Norfolk has two weeks less on station time, and Rota based forces are still too far away. No reason to keep forces in Rota once the AEGIS ashore stations are done.

      I could go on but there is no reason to, it begins to sound like a broken record. The Med is like a bacon and egg breakfast. The chicken (US) is concerned, the pig (Europeans) is committed. Let them deal with it.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Hasn’t been that for 25 years.

    And there is no ABM facility there anyway.

    In other news that may shock you…. the Falklands have been invaded!

  • El Kabong

    Go look up who participated in the Libyan operation.

  • El Kabong

    ” Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia have ABM sites that the U.S. has built, and they are wanting to build more…”?

    What systems and where?

    BTW, Czechoslovakia hasn’t existed FOR YEARS, comrade.

  • Marcd30319

    Don’t forget El Kabong, homey, and Rocco. Or your secret BFF Leroy.

    It does take a special lack of character to bring someone’s mother into a discussion in order to score a cheap shot.

    Certainly lower than a Enterobius vermicularis. Real school-yard stuff. Very mature and so intellectual.

    But then nothing surprises me about you except that you are who you claim to be.

    Stay classy, old-timer, and keep an eye on that countdown to 2019. Retirement can’t come soon enough.

    • muzzleloader

      It would seem that Kye is one of those that is that overwhelmed with his own magnificence. Anyone not of his proclaimed stature is to him, in the category of insect.
      I must say that him bringing our mothers into the discussion makes him sound very, school yard.

      • Marcd30319

        Must be stressed out over his upcoming retirement in 2019.

  • Ed L

    Let’s see Close the suez. Close the dantanelles, and close the straits of Gibraltar. Problem solved. Now if this happens some people would want to drain parts of the Mediterranean and grow food.

  • John Locke

    U.S. needs more presence in the eastern Med…..translation ……… more ships to keep the U.S. military industrial complex hummin’ and Trump cronies wealthy

  • Tony4

    LCS for the Med and the Baltic! Small seas are great for ships with short legs and contractor support requirements.

  • Remember DESRON 12 forward deployed in Greece. Of course then we had tender services and a fairly good Greek ship yard. USS Page FFG, USS Vreeland FF, Sampson DDG, Barry and Manley, Forest Sherman class DD’s), also the USS Wood a WW2 Fram’d can. When the Greeks and Turks got into it she was sent to the West Med. Both the Greeks and Turks had Fram’d can so Wood might have been mis-ID by the belligerents and caught up in the mess.We got kicked out and left Greece the day after a multi million dollar pier was opened. We had a giant beer party on the new pier. As we left you could see a flotilla of empty beer cans escorting the ships. Our job, as the Commodore told us was to stop the Russian Black Sea fleet from entering the Med. We did a lot of Squadron division tacks, and were probably the best trained destroyer in the USN. MMcS(SW) USN Ret. USS Vreeland FF1068.