MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- The Italian Chief of Defense visited Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., June 25, 2014.
Italian Navy Adm. Luigi Binelli Mantelli visited the air station to learn more about Marine Corps aviation and the mission of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Binelli Mantelli is the head of the Italian armed forces and commands their navy, army and air force under the direction of President of the Italian Republic. Italian forces support operations vital to U.S. interests, including United Nations and NATO initiatives. Most recently, Italian forces deployed to support peacekeeping missions across Africa and as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
While at Cherry Point, the official party met with Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, and Col. Chris Pappas III, commanding officer of Cherry Point. Binelli Mantelli and Vice Adm. Donato Marzano, head of the general office of the Chief of Defense, learned about the mission of 2nd MAW and Cherry Point during several briefings highlighting Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, which is responsible for supporting U.S. and international contingencies across Africa, as well as the continued ISAF effort in Afghanistan. The party also made an aerial tour of the air station and surrounding training areas aboard an MV-22B Osprey before heading back to Cherry Point for a debrief of the day’s events.
“The visit was meant to educate the Italian Chief of Defense on both the SPMAGTF and MV-22 operations,” said Capt. Anthony J. Doukas, the G-3 forward operations rotary wing tasker with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The visit helped foster relationships between the United States and Italy, according to Doukas.
“2nd MAW aircraft routinely operate in the vicinity of Italy as part of SPMAGTF-CR and the Marine Expeditionary Unit,” said, Doukas.
“The briefings and visit allowed the senior military leadership in Italy to better understand the capabilities of the MV-22B and provide greater relations with 2nd MAW aircraft when deployed in the Mediterranean.”
The visit could prove beneficial by encouraging more permissive operations in Italy and greater interoperability between the U.S. and Italian military forces, according to Doukas.