Photo Information

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith speaks to Marines and sailors with Task Force 61/2 during a town hall meeting at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, May 29, 2024. The town hall meeting was held to discuss the future of naval expeditionary warfare and other Marine Corps-wide modernization such as Force Design, talent management, retention, training and education. TF 61/2 is a forward-deployed command element in support of U.S. Sixth Fleet operations in the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, and is deployed in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to support U.S. allied and partner interests. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Marc Imprevert)

Photo by Cpl. Marc Imprevert

Commandant, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps visit TF 61/2

5 Jun 2024 | Staff Sgt. Josue Marquez Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force

Established in March 2022, CTF 61/2’s mission is to command and control fleet Marine forces in support of the U.S. Sixth Fleet commander while synchronizing Navy and Marine Corps units and capabilities in the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command’s area of operations. The task force supports regional allies and partners, and U.S. national security interests, by utilizing an integrated Navy and Marine Corps staff structure that strengthens partnership among assigned fleet Marine forces, amphibious ready groups, fleet anti-terrorism security teams, and other assigned forces to serve as a task force headquarters for the commander of U.S. Sixth Fleet.

“Improving naval integration in support of our numbered Fleets and all Combatant Commanders is one of my five priorities,” said Smith. “The Marines here at Task Force 61/2 are living it. These few Marines out here in Naples are having a huge impact across two combatant commands by rounding out the maritime picture. Their ability to assist in the command and control of naval forces, to include our crown jewel—our Marine Expeditionary Units embarked aboard Amphibious Ready Groups—is critical. Because of them, our Combatant Commanders have better maritime domain awareness, seamless access to a large-scale crisis response capability and stand-in forces that can execute reconnaissance, and counter-reconnaissance, and are able to improve interoperability across the joint force and with our NATO allies.”

Smith and Ruiz toured NSA Naples while escorted by CTF 61/2 and U.S. Sixth Fleet service members. Their visit consisted of office calls with key service leaders within the European and African region including U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe-Africa Commanding General Maj. Gen. Robert B. Sofge, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Commander Adm. Stuart B. Munsch, U.S. Sixth Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Thomas E. Ishee, and CTF 61/2 Commanding General Brig. Gen. Samuel L. Meyer. These office calls focused on the future of naval expeditionary warfare and integration.

"The interoperability within the Navy and Marine Corps Team is vital as we uphold our shared commitment to warfighting excellence," said Munsch. "In the European and African theaters, our integrated Naval Team epitomizes a relentless dedication to building trust and relationships with our partners and allies, and delivering decisive deterrence and defense at sea and on shore."

Following the engagements, Smith and Ruiz held a town hall meeting to discuss the important role that CTF 61/2’s plays in the European and African region and their connection with Force Design 2030.

"It was an excellent and highly productive meeting with both the Commandant and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps,” said Meyer. “The Marines were able to ask questions on a wide range of topics and received valuable insight from our Service’s top leaders. They reinforced our critical role as a task force in the future of naval expeditionary warfighting."

Marines and Sailors also discussed Marine Corps-wide changes such as Force Design, talent management, retention, training, education, installations and logistics. The meeting ended with a ceremony to recognize, promote, and award Marines and Sailors within the task force.

Through CTF 61/2, II Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Sixth Fleet have created an opportunity for the Navy, Marine Corps, and geographic component commanders to utilize a forward-deployed Marine headquarters while aiming to redesign its force for naval expeditionary warfare in actively contested environments. Aligned with Force Design, the establishment of CTF 61/2 provides the opportunities, activities, and capabilities necessary to shape the Marine Corps’ contributions to naval warfare and the joint force.