“Odyssey Encore” – US and Greek Marines Conduct Large-Scale Joint Training in Olympus and Magnesia

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Three giant Amphibious Operations ships. 650 elite Marines. Aggressive aerial vehicles, helicopters and aircraft. Heavy armament with guns and mortars. A powerful US Armed Forces Strike Force has been co-training since the beginning of the week with the Greek Marines of the 32nd "MORAVAS" Brigade and the 1st Army Aviation Brigade.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, which immediately after the start of the war in Gaza moved to Crete and the American Base of Souda together with other US forces and remain in full readiness.

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The excellent relationship between Greece and the USA - as was confirmed during the visit of the head of the State Department, Antony Blinken, to the house of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Crete - gave the two militaries the opportunity to plan large-scale joint training.

The mighty US Marine Air Ground Task Force is moving in with three giant Amphibious Operations ships, which have transported the Marines from Souda to the Magnesia area.

This is the LPD-19 USS MESA VERDE 208 metres long, with which the famous US Marines move, the 190 metres long Amphibious USS CARTER HALL and also the WASP Class USS BATAAN, an Amphibious Assault Ship, which carries over 257 metres of Aerial Offensive Means.

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AV-8B HARRIER vertical landing aircraft, Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and CH-53 Sea Stallion transports as well as UH-1Y Venom.

The US Marines carry and use M-777 155mm towed guns as well as 60 and 81mm mortars. A powerful autonomous strike force with the mission of moving quickly to crisis areas and conducting Amphibious Operations.

Together with the Greek Marines, the Force of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is co-training in a series of scenarios in Glafyra and the Lindo coast of Magnesia and also at the Litochoro Shooting Range at the foot of Mount Olympus.

The elite commandos will carry out, among other things, Amphibious Assaults, mortar fire, artillery and helicopters, while engagement scenarios will be executed with close air support and JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) assistance.

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The joint training, which will end on January 18, is another vote of confidence from the Americans to the Greek Armed Forces, especially the collaborations with the elite Units of the newly established Special Warfare Command which have increased dramatically in recent times. More often American Special Forces Units visit Greece for joint exercises with the Special Operations Units.

But gradually, in addition to small elite SOF Teams, the Americans are now sending larger numerical forces to Greece with corresponding air, land and amphibious means for joint training over time with other Units and Formations of the Land Army. Larger scale exercises are planned and executed at an interdisciplinary level.

The high level of training of the Greek forces is a lure for the American forces on land, air and sea, while the terrain of the country that combines continental, insular and marine environments is an ideal training field.

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