Exercise Mare Aperto (MA24) commenced today, marking the Italian Navy’s largest training endeavor to date. Over the course of four rigorous weeks, more than 9,000 personnel will engage in simulated crisis scenarios, culminating in open confrontations. This multifaceted exercise involves a diverse array of assets, including over 100 ships, aircraft, submarines, and unmanned vehicles.

Among the participants are amphibious ships and personnel from the San Marco Marine Brigade, as well as contingents from the Spanish and French Navies and Marine units, in collaboration with the US Marine Corps and US Navy. This joint effort encompasses wheeled and tracked vehicles operated by all involved parties, showcasing comprehensive interoperability.

Additionally, COMSUBIN raiders and divers are integral to the exercise, contributing specialized capabilities in maritime operations. The joint and inter-agency nature of MA24 extends further, incorporating units from the Army, Air Force, Carabinieri, and Guardia di Finanza. Naval and air assets from the Coast Guard complement military forces, ensuring a holistic approach to maritime security.

Admiral Aurelio De Carolis, Commander in Chief Naval Fleet, emphasized the exercise’s comprehensive scope, spanning all maritime domains, from the high seas to coastal areas and beyond. Furthermore, MA24 embraces the complexities of air, land, space, and cyber domains, adopting a fully multi-domain approach. This joint, inter-agency, and inter-ministerial endeavor underscores the commitment to effective collaboration across various sectors to enhance maritime defense capabilities.

“Among the novelties of this year, I would like to highlight the connection between Mare Aperto and the Polaris exercise of the French Navy, which in the hottest phase will lead to the confrontation between the attack groups of the Cavour and Charles de Gaulle aircraft carriers. As regards the international level, Mare Aperto 24 sees the participation of forces belonging to 11 NATO member countries and as many partner nations of the Alliance,” remarked
Admiral Aurelio De Carolis, Commander in Chief Italian Naval Fleet.

This year’s exercise will feature the participation of NATO’s standing naval mine countermeasures group deployed in the Mediterranean (SNMCMG2), naval assets operating within the EUROMARFOR initiative, and the Spanish landing force, alongside the French Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier group.

Admiral Aurelio De Carolis emphasized the maritime instrument’s capacity to showcase its full range of capabilities within a multi-domain context. He highlighted the interconnectedness facilitated by innovative cyber and space infrastructures. The Italian Navy’s commitments have reached unprecedented levels of complexity and scope, with command responsibilities extending across the ‘Wider Mediterranean’ area. These responsibilities include tactical direction of ongoing European naval missions such as Atalanta, Aspides, and Irini, Task Force 153 within the Combined Maritime Forces, and the Gabinia mission in the Gulf of Guinea.

“The Mare Aperto represents a now consolidated and internationally recognized exercise format, which allows us to train maritime forces in order to carry out these command tasks with capacity and authority, developing challenging training scenarios consistent with the current global geostrategic framework.”

The Italian Navy Fleet, in conjunction with French and Spanish forces, alongside 20 other NATO and partner navies, will conduct exercises in the central Mediterranean until May 27th. The operational area spans from the Ionian Sea to the French coasts, encompassing Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica.

In addition to military training, the exercise will address aspects of civilian population support during natural disasters. Training activities in the port of Cagliari will involve local authorities, Italian Civil Protection, the National Inspectorate of the Volunteer Military Corps of the Italian Red Cross, Volunteer Nurses of the Italian Red Cross, and the Italian Order of Malta Corps.

Moreover, 65 university students, along with accompanying teachers, representing 15 Italian universities, will be aboard Italian Navy Fleet ships. These students, integrated into onboard staff based on their fields of study, demonstrate the Navy’s ongoing commitment to fostering a maritime culture essential for Italy’s growth and prosperity. Representatives from the Centre for Defense Higher Studies (CASD), Ce.S.I. (Centre for International Studies), and the Center for Geopolitics and Maritime Strategy (CESMAR) will also be present aboard the Cavour ship, enhancing the exercise’s academic and strategic dimensions.