The DA-21 is intended to unite Turkish Maritime units, public institutions and organisations, SNFs, and friendly forces to increase organisation, interoperability, and preparedness by executing missions and responsibilities under the command structure of the TURMARFOR (Turkey Maritime Force). Today, the exercise will be headquartered at TCG Bayraktar. When the Turkish LHD vessel TCG Anadolu enters the inventory, it will be the new flagship.
TURMARFOR is the key element of the exercise. It suggests that Turkey wishes to play a larger maritime role in NATO. Since the conclusion of the Cold War, many people have debated Turkey’s and the Turkish army’s position in NATO. Turkish Navy plans to have another milestone capability, TURMARFOR, which gives another answer from Turkish Naval Capability. TURMARFOR means that Turkey has the capability of command and control major NATO operations on behalf of NATO. The DA-21 aims to confirm Turkey’s readiness.
NATO has such headquarters of “high readiness” maritime forces established in some allied countries, like UKMARFOR (United Kingdom), SPANISHMARFOR (Spain), ITMARFOR (Italy), FRMARFOR (France), STRIKEFORNATO. Now Turkey claims that they have enough capacity to hold such operations for NATO and requires a more important role in the partnership. It is also worth noting that all such forces have either an aircraft carrier or LHD to perform such capability.
The INVITEX DA-21 aims to provide a realistic training environment where decision-makers, staff, and participating units enhance their knowledge and skills regarding the crisis-response operation.
As part of the exercise, a briefing was given to the observers and members of the press aboard the landing ship TCG Bayraktar, anchored at Aksaz Naval Base in Muğla’s Marmaris district.
In the briefing, Lieutenant Commander Cüneyt Talayman said that the purpose of the exercise is to test humanitarian aid, natural disaster response methods with the participation of a multinational, joint force and public and civil organisations, based on a generic scenario.
Talayman emphasised that within the scope of the exercise, it is aimed to observe the readiness of the Turkish Naval Task Force, which is planned to take on an important and respected task such as the Naval Component Command within the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2023 and 2028, and said: “As national elements, 26 ships, maritime patrol aircraft, naval helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, amphibious marine infantry units and Underwater Attack and Underwater Defence task teams from the Naval Forces Command, attack and general-purpose helicopters from the Land Forces Command, Tactical air support F-16 aircraft, Airborne Early Warning and Control (HIK) aircraft and transport aircraft, search and rescue teams from the Gendarmerie General Command, coast guard boats and search and rescue helicopters from the Coast Guard Command will participate in the operation.
Explaining that 11 observers from Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Oman and Ukraine participated in the exercise, Talayman made the following statements: “1 Boarding Team from Azerbaijan, one frigate and 1 Underwater Strike Team from Pakistan, three frigates and one fuel oil ship from NATO Permanent Maritime Task Group-2 (SNMG-2), NATO Permanent Mine Countermeasures Mission 1 patrol ship and three minelayers from Group-2 (SNMCMG-2) and one representative from NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) will participate.”
Stating that the main and secondary events of the exercise scenario are an asymmetric threat at sea, CBRN incidents, evacuation of non-combatants, humanitarian aid, natural disaster support and piracy, and terrorist activities at sea, Talayman said, “On November 3-6, surface warfare against basic naval operations, submarine Operational readiness training including air defence warfare, electronic warfare, maritime control operations and submarine rescue operations and actual weapon firing will be carried out.
Talayman stated that between 7-10 November, the crisis management free play phase, which includes crisis and wartime scenarios, will be carried out simultaneously in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Fleet Commander Admiral Ercüment Tatlıoğlu, observers of the countries participating in the exercise, ship commanders and military personnel attended the briefing.