Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania – In a special visit to recognize the efforts of the special operations forces (SOF) community within the European theater of operations, Admiral James Stavridis, commander, U.S. European Command traveled to Romania on Tuesday, Sept. 20, to see multinational troops participating in the Jackal Stone 11 exercise.
Accompanied by the Romanian Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant-General Ștefan Danilă, the two distinguished visitors were met by Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, commander, Special Operations Command Europe, whose command coordinated the SOF exercise, to receive an in-depth overview of the exercise and to personally talk to its participants.
“Special Operations Forces are forward deployed in hard combat in Afghanistan and many of you have served there and your teammates, or as we say in the Navy ‘your shipmates,’ who are down in Afghanistan today are doing terrific work,” Stavridis said, addressing SOF personnel from nine nations. “Every day when I talk about Afghanistan to national leaders, I emphasize to them how important special operations work is there.
“And it runs the gamut, as you know, from very dangerous direct action missions to classic counterinsurgency, COIN, working with the population to protect them, across the entire spectrum of military activities.”
Jackal Stone, an annual multinational SOF exercise designed to promote cooperation and interoperability between participating forces, build functional capacity and enhance readiness, is being this year held in Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.
Approximately 1,400 SOF operators and staff personnel from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and the United States are taking part in this exercise meant to enhance SOF capacity.
During the initial part of his visit, Stavridis toured the Combined Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command, had lunch with senior officer and noncommissioned officer leaders from the participating nations, and toured the exercise’s Joint Exercise Control Group center.
From there, the delegation moved on to Constanta Military Harbor to view a live tactical demonstration featuring a maritime Special Operations Task Group (SOTG), consisting of Naval SOF operators from Norway, Romania, Ukraine and the U.S.
At the harbor, Stavridis was greeted with full Naval military honors by Romanian Chief of Naval Forces, Vice Admiral Aurel Popa and invited onboard the Romanian frigate “Regina Maria” to watch the demonstration.
He next observed the SOTG perform Visit, Board, Search and Seizure tactics from rigid inflatable boats while simultaneously conducting fast-rope boarding operations from a Romanian Puma helicopter on a target ship.
At the conclusion of the event, Stavridis thanked the Romanian naval officers for their hospitality on the frigate and greeted several Romanian Naval SOF operators that took part in the demonstration.
“Thank you, you guys did an excellent job out there,” Stavridis said as he gave his Commander’s Coin to the operators upon his departure. “Excellent, excellent job.”