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USA and Peru complete multi-national Silent Forces Exercise


Silent Forces Exercise (SIFOREX) 2021 concluded with a closing ceremony taking place in Callao, Peru, Sept. 24.  SIFOREX, conducted Sept. 19-24, is a Peruvian-hosted naval exercise that focuses on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) proficiency. It provides a unique opportunity for naval forces to conduct ASW operations against multiple submarines in a complex environment.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771) (Picture source: US Navy)


The primary focus of SIFOREX is ASW operations, but the exercise also provided events in anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and submarine escape and rescue (SMEREX). A ship rider exchange was also conducted during the exercise allowing countries to participate in operations on each other’s respective ships.

Participating U.S forces included USS Mustin (DDG 89) with two embarked MH-60R helicopters from the “Scorpions” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49, the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771), one P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 9, as well as staff from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, Commander Submarine Force Atlantic, and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40.


Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) (Picture source: US Navy)


Peruvian forces included four ships, two submarines, two fixed wing aircraft and two helicopters. In addition, Colombia and Mexico both provided ships and helicopters, while Australia, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, and Spain, sent exercise observers.

"This exercise served as an excellent training opportunity for my crew," said Cmdr. Corey D. Barksdale, commanding officer of Columbia. "It isn't often we have the opportunity to train and hone our skills with diesel submarines, surface, and air assets from partner nations. Learning how to operate together in a controlled environment gives us the tools and knowledge we need to be successful in real-world operations. I am incredibly proud of what my team was able to accomplish."

Units accomplished training objectives in command and control, ASW, and ASuW using different scenarios. During these scenarios, situations were simulated to train submarine units in evasion procedures against surface and air units, improve contact classification and attack procedures under different threats, and train in search, detection, tracking, classification, and attack against surface targets.


Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 P-8A aircraft (Picture source: US Navy)


“ASW is an important mission set for the P-8 Poseidon aircraft,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dan Krier, officer in charge of the VP-9 detachment. “SIFOREX gave us the chance to have contact time on live submarines, and also to complete advanced qualifications and operational readiness assessments for the crew.”

The exercise improved overall interoperability and readiness between participating naval forces. It served as a valuable training opportunity for ships, aircraft, submarines, and staffs.

SIFOREX has been a routine exercise since 2001, becoming a biennial exercise in 2006, occurring every even year since. The exercise was not conducted in 2020 and was rescheduled to 2021 to coincide with UNITAS LXII and the Peruvian bicentennial.