Open Sea exercise ends (MA 24-1)

(To Marina Militare)

The exercise took place from 3 to 27 May Offshore (MA 24-1), a key training moment which also in this year's edition involved all the means belonging to the operational pillar of the Navy, stressing those particular requirements of versatility, flexibility and readiness which make the maritime instrument capable to operate in today's complex international scenario.

The recently concluded exercise reached a scale and involvement never seen before, with more than 10.000 soldiers from 26 nations (of which 9 belonging to NATO), 50 ships, 63 aircraft, 6 submarines, 243 vehicles, 47 landing craft and unmanned vehicles engaged in the training areas established from the Greek to the French coasts, incorporating Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, in an area of ​​600.000 NM2.

At the end of the first two weeks, during which the crews were engaged daily in training activities tailored to all possible areas of use, the Offshore it veered into a tactical phase in which the exercise saw the fusion of the French paradigm Polaris, with a direct confrontation between two maritime forces. This phase, with a high level of realism, saw the conflict between the aircraft carrier groups of Italy and France and consequent multi-domain actions in the field of Sea Denial, Sea Control, Power Projection Ashore and Maritime Security Operations.

The "live" scenario, extremely changeable, featured both the staff belonging to DIREX and the CTF and the 65 students belonging to 15 universities and 3 research centers (Centro Alti Studi per la Difesa, Ce.SI - Centro Studi Internazionali, CESMAR - Center for Geopolitics and Maritime Strategy) which have been fully integrated and immersed in a constantly evolving scenario. The continuous comparison of a heterogeneous community in the POLAD, LEGAD, STRATCOM and PI fields was an added value, with training and methodological activities that allowed operations to be made even more realistic and coherent with the challenges of modern operational scenarios, highlighting in this sense once again the importance that the Navy places on academia.

The innovative cyber and space sectors have been effectively introduced into the training scenario, putting them to the test in the face of a degradation of capabilities. The first during the CHIRONEX exercise led to the study of possible vulnerabilities in the logistics chain, linked to the introduction of a hacked hardware element into the on-board system. The second, however, involved the crews, in a degradation in the ability to use satellite services by some participating vehicles.

The marine brigade Saint Mark (BMSM) acting as the lead of a joint/combined landing force, has effectively adopted the concept of Distributed Maritime Operations, carrying out amphibious operations in rapid succession along the east coast of Corsica, where the BMSM marine riflemen operated and at the Cape Teulada range, the area affected by the landing of the French marine infantry.

Among the significant activities carried out by minehunters in the Gulf of Cagliari, we highlight on the one hand the introduction of innovative autonomous surface vehicles, confirming the projection of the armed force towards technological innovation, and on the other the localization and identification activity of 16 war devices dating back to the Second World War, clear testimony to the incessant contribution that the Navy offers to the country for the protection of navigation safety.

As regards the embarked aerotactic forces, they were the protagonists of numerous offensive and defensive actions, with a fruitful integration with the French naval aviation. In this context, the staff of carrier strike groups embarked aboard the aircraft carrier Cavour, during the phase Polaris of the exercise, was able to train and compare with the equivalent of the French aircraft carrier group, obtaining, at the end of the exercise, operational certification in view of the imminent start of the operational projection campaign.

In conclusion, the exercise Open Sea/Polaris highlighted how, in a general context in which the perception of security has radically changed, cooperation between allied navies, as happened between Italy and France, is increasingly an enabling requirement to deal with current threats, with integration and interchangeability activities of means, capable of operating in a coordinated, connected and joint manner in all forms of struggle and in all domains, including cyber and space.