Working with Allies: The View from Second Fleet


Recently, we posted a recent piece on Vice Admiral Lewis, head of 2nd Fleet and the Joint Force Commander Norfolk.

We highlighted a recent speech by the VADM which underscored that:

“We recognize in the Navy and the Joint Force that we have capability gaps that require our attention – one of which is what we are here to discuss today – C2 networks and the integration into a single structure.

“As we work to create a more networked force, we need to be agile in the way we think and how we operate with one another.

“And I’ll take it one step forward, as a dual-hatted commander of a U.S. and NATO command, if we are going truly operate as a joint force and an alliance, we need to implement processes at the beginning and provide more opportunities to train to the NATO standard – in addition to a standard across the Joint force.

“We put a premium on “local knowledge” and we look to leverage the knowledge and expertise from our Allies in operating under the NATO umbrella as we drive towards a new standard.”

More details were provided on his perspective in an article published on January 26, 2021 by Megan Eckstein where she highlighted the views of the Swedish Navy chief with regard to Russian Gray zone activities.

Her article was based on an American Enterprise Institute online discussion on the Baltic and North seas.

She highlighted comments by VADM Lewis at this event.

In the same event, U.S. 2nd Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis also spoke of the importance of these exercises, saying in a previous exercise with the Swedish Navy he “learned more than I ever thought I would learn about mine countermeasures, about anti-submarine warfare, about operating in a very restricted waterway.”

Lewis repeatedly spoke about the need to be present in the Atlantic, the Baltic, the Arctic and other High North bodies of water. He made clear the U.S. Navy couldn’t provide enough presence on its own and was reliant on partners to help serve as eyes and ears for a network of allies and partners working together to push back against Russian activities that go against international standards of conduct.

Since 2nd Fleet reached initial operational capability two years ago, many of its most prominent operations have relied heavily on collaborations with allies and partners. Lewis noted that when he commanded the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2019 exercise, he had just 50 staff members assigned to 2nd Fleet at the time but a staff of 450 running the exercise from command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) thanks to allies and partners sending their best officers to fill out the staff.

“2nd Fleet would not be where it is as a command now without Sweden and other partners in our command network. Absolutely would not be,” he said during the event.
“And I am extremely grateful for the nations and the organizations that we have partnered with and gotten assistance from, to include the U.S. 6th Fleet as well and the U.S. 4th Fleet down in Mayport, Fla.”

Also see the following:

The Future is Now for Enhanced Integratability: The Perspective of Major General Anders Rex