U.S. Navy participates in India’s Exercise Milan for first time

U.S Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA), from Patrol Squadron (VP) 47, joined with ships, aircraft and personnel from India and numerous other navies to begin Exercise Milan 2022, in the Bay of Bengal, Feb. 25.

This year marks the first time U.S. has participated in Exercise Milan. Milan in Hindi means “meeting”. The first Exercise Milan took place in 1995 with four navies and has taken place every two years since. This is the first Exercise Milan since 2018 as the 2020 iteration was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s exercise is focused on enhancing professional interaction between professional navies and gaining experience in multilateral large force operations at sea.

The exercise is scheduled to include a harbor phase followed by a sea phase where the ships will focus on a variety of high-end tactical training, maneuvering drills, air-defense exercises, submarine familiarization, multinational replenishment-at-sea, communications drills, gunnery exercise, and joint warfighting scenarios.

“Milan provides an opportunity for like-minded navies that sharing a common vision of a more stable, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, to operate and train alongside one another,” said Cmdr. David Catterall, commanding officer, USS Fitzgerald. 

“We are grateful for India’s hosting this important event and their efforts to harmonize our contributions to the region, and look forward to ensuring future engagements to build strong alliances and partnerships.”

Exercise Milan includes forces from Australia, Bangladesh, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Seychelles, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam. 

The last multinational exercise the U.S. participated in the Indian Ocean was MALABAR, in Oct. 2021, a QUAD maritime exercise with the Royal Australian Navy, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and U.S. Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Arunta (FFH 151) transited with Fitzgerald during a group sail ahead of Exercise Milan commencing.

Fitzgerald is underway conducting operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, while assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.

The “Golden Swordsmen” of VP-47 are part of Commander Task Force (CTF) 72, are stationed in Whidbey Island, Washington, and are currently deployed to Misawa Air Base in Aomori, Japan. Throughout the deployment, they will be conducting maritime patrol and reconnaissance and theater outreach operations within the 7th Fleet area of operations.

U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet employs 50 to 70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Image credit: VISAKHAPATNAM, INDIA (Feb. 25, 2022) Sailors man the rails as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) pulls in with an Indian Navy helicopter for escort. Exercise Milan 2022 is a biennial Indian Navy-hosted multilateral exercise that the U.S. is participating in for the first time. This year’s exercise is focused on enhancing professional interaction between professional navies and gaining experience in multilateral large force operations at sea. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Catie Coyle.

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