USS Mason, FS Charles de Gaulle commanders meet in the Med

U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) commanders and French officials from the Charles de Gaulle Strike Group (CDGSG) met while operating together in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Nov. 25, 2016.

Having replaced the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71), Mason is deployed to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

CDGSG operations from the Mediterranean Sea work in tandem with OIR efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations by supporting the fight against the Daesh or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) while demonstrating a carrier strike group’s ability to perform integrated multi-national air strikes.

Cmdr. Christopher J. Gilbertson, Mason’s commanding officer, met Rear Adm. Olivier Lebas, commander of the CDGSG, and other French officials to consolidate strategies and tactics in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

“We have worked with many of our multi-national partners over the past six months, and the crew has performed admirably every time. We enjoyed a very successful joint operation with the destroyer FS Forbin (D620) earlier this deployment and look forward to working with our friends and partners again,” Gilbertson said.

“The mission of the [CDGSG] is to reinforce and strengthen the French involvement against Daesh in Iraq and Syria,” Lebas said. “We are here to participate as a coalition, and while doing so, help build a strong picture of the freedom of maneuvering in this area.”

French and U.S. naval forces, along with other NATO allies, continue to forge a global network of navies by collectively working together to share information, experiences and resources in an effort to foster regional security.

Lebas mentioned the CDGSG as an important factor in supporting Iraqi and Kurdish security forces involved in the battle for Mosul, in Northern Iraq, while engaging in a strong, concerted push towards Raqqa, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria.

“We can bring significant additional force to be able to conduct the battles in both theatres, mostly in Mosul but also in Raqqa,” said Lebas. “We have the sufficient amount of aircraft to support actions in both theatres.”