Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Stephen Valerio of the United States Navy (USN) has been recognised for his exceptional work in the international maritime environment.
Lt Cdr Valerio, who is serving with Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) as part of Combined Task Force 150, has been awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal for his meritorious service on Exercise Trident Juncture 15.
Lt Cdr Valerio was embedded within the staff of Commander UK Maritime Forces (COMUKMARFOR), and received the medal for his efforts on Exercise Trident Juncture, the largest NATO exercise since 2002. COMUKMARFOR acted as the maritime command for the exercise and Lt Cdr Valerio was the Lead Planner for the complex Live Exercise phase, during which the MCC controlled 10 subordinate task groups comprising ships, submarines, aircraft, and amphibious troops from 19 nations.
Lt Cdr Valerio is now Head of Operations within the UK-led CTF 150 and is putting the skills honed during Exercise Trident Juncture into practice in the operational environment. He is responsible for both short-term planning and the day-to-day management of the ships in support of the task force. His efforts have proved instrumental in the successful seizures of over a tonne of heroin by Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Darwin and French Ship Nivose in May, and a tonne of hashish by Her Majesty’s Ship Defender in June.
Lt Cdr Valerio said: “Working with the Royal Navy (RN) has been an honour, more so the privilege of working for exceptional commanders within the Maritime Battle Staff organization who set an example of excellence across all warfare disciplines. As a professional, I have grown exponentially due to the second-to-none mentorship from proven leaders within the RN organization. The success of the UK-led CTF 150 is no surprise as the performance and leadership is in keeping with the highest traditions of the Royal Navy.”
Commodore Guy Robinson, Commander of CTF 150, said: “While Lt Cdr Valerio’s award recognises international service in a different theatre, he continues to provide exceptional service in the complex, multi-national environment of Combined Maritime Forces. His integration within the COMUKMARFOR staff is a reflection of the very strong bonds that exist between the Royal Navy and the United States Navy.”