US creates European ballistic missile defense task force

The U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet operating in Europe and Africa has established a new task force that will be solely responsible for ballistic missile defense in Europe.

On March 24, Commodore Jeffrey Wolstenholme assumed command of the newly established Commander, Task Force 64, as the unit was named.

U.S. Vice Admiral James Foggo III said the move was made in order to “better address the changing threats in Europe”.

The appointed Commander of Task Force 64, Commodore Jeffery Wolstenholme, said: “The United States made a commitment to our NATO partners called the European Phased Adaptive Approach, to help defend NATO Europe against Ballistic Missile threats from the Middle East.”

“As part of this commitment to NATO, the Navy has established this new Task Force to be the operational commander for Aegis Ashore and the tactical commander directing our Ballistic Missile Defense forces in defense of NATO Europe.”

The Navy said the establishment of CTF64 was in response to countering potential ballistic missile threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area and improving the defense capabilities of Europe.

CTF 64 will be responsible for executing operational and tactical integrated air and missile defense for NAVEUR-NAVAF, while also providing direct support for Aegis BMD planning to Commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Commander, Allied Air Command.

European Phased Adaptive Approach is the U.S. national contribution to the NATO BMD mission. Naval assets that fall under the EPAA umbrella are the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, USS Carney, USS Donald Cook, USS Porter and USS Ross.

An Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System is already in place in Deveselu, Romania. It reached technical capability declaration in December 2015, and is currently working toward operational certification. A second AAMDS is scheduled to be built in Redzikowo, Poland, with ground breaking sometime in 2016.