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Maj. Gen. Stephen Neary, II Marine Expeditionary Force deputy commanding general, and Rear Adm. Matthew A. Zirkle, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa chief of staff, discuss Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary capabilities during Maritime Preposition Force Exercise 20 at U.S. Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, Feb. 12, 2020. MPFEX 20 demonstrates the ability of a Navy Marine Corps team to deploy, employ and redeploy a staff capable of commanding and controlling forces in support of operations in Europe. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Hector de Jesus)

Photo by Staff Sgt. Hector de Jesus

East Coast Marines "Train, Fight, Win" with 6th Fleet in Europe

13 Feb 2020 | Courtesy Story II Marine Expeditionary Force

II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) is increasing readiness through a forward presence in Europe while commanding and controlling Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) rehearsals in Florida.

Maritime Prepositioning Force Exercise 20 (MPFEX 20), taking place Feb. 8 to March 12, 2020, evaluates the abilities of II MEF and Expeditionary Strike Group 2 (ESG 2) to rapidly deploy a command element to exercise tactical control of geographically disparate forces and facilitate follow-on Navy and Marine Corps deployments across the Atlantic.

With the resurgence of great power competition and the need to expand the competitive space, while competing below the level of armed conflict, II MEF continues to embody the command’s mantra of train, fight, win in support of U.S. European Command and the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet. By conducting training such as MPFEX the Navy and Marine Corps team continue to achieve integrated combat power, which ultimately supports our national interests.

“The next conflict will likely start at a place and time of our adversaries’ choosing,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Neary, commander of II MEF Forward. “They will strike quickly, rearrange the status quo to their favor and attempt to present the world with a fait accompli.”

The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) cites inter-state, strategic competition with peer competitors as the primary concern of U.S. national security. Adversaries who consistently undermine international norms pose a pervasive threat to U.S. interests and rules-based international order. When adversaries have the advantage of geographic proximity, U.S. forces must be prepared to respond and fight at the location and speed of the problem.

II MEF plans and executes events like MPFEX 20 to prepare for operations inside actively-contested maritime spaces in support of fleet operations to reassure allies and deter adversaries.

“MPFEX 20 allows me to set conditions for subordinates’ success as I balance resources, capabilities and capacity, access risk with the temporal speed of the threat and, at the same time, reassure allies and deter adversaries,” said Neary. “As II MEF executes command and control of maritime operations from across the Atlantic, our Navy and Marine Corps team becomes a more potent, formidable force.”

MPFs provide a deployable naval expeditionary capability across the range of military operations, from disaster relief to major combat operations. When conducted in close coordination with Navy partners, MPFs allow the rapid and scalable deployment of naval expeditionary forces to the European theater.

“MPFEX is an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate one of the ESG-2 and II MEF Forward team's most flexible, responsive and potent capabilities,” said Col. Brian Duplessis, deputy commander of ESG-2. “MPF often constitutes the first, credible friendly combat forces available during crisis response.”

MPF's timely responsiveness provides friendly commanders decision space while presenting dilemmas for adversary leadership. The capabilities of an MPF-enhanced Marine Air-Ground Task Force - combined with other naval, joint and combined military capabilities as part of whole-of-government approach - can deter aggressors before a crisis escalates into bona fide armed conflict.

“Operating forward with our fleet counterpart facilitates quicker decision-making, enhances relationships, demonstrates commitment and presents our adversaries with multiple dilemmas. In order to counter tyranny of distance from the U.S. to Europe, we, the Navy-Marine team, must be postured forward inside the contact and blunt layers to delay, degrade or deny adversary aggression,” said Neary. “With a close relationship to the Marine Corps, the Navy will deliver decisive Integrated American Naval Power.”

MPFEX 20 builds on previous and upcoming II MEF exercises to support the Marine Corps’ renewed focus on fighting as part of the Fleet Marine Force supporting a Naval Expeditionary Force. Deploying II MEF capabilities to 6th Fleet reinvigorates a more integrated approach to operations in the maritime domain.

For content and more information about MPFEX 20, please visit

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