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COMPTUEX - Composite Training Unit Exercise

Each Carrier Battle Group performs a rehearsal called Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) before departing for a six-month deployment. Over the previous several months, each ship and aircraft in the battle group has trained in its specialty. COMPTUEX brings ships together to project force as a battle group. COMPTUEX is an intermediate-level battle group exercise designed to forge the battle group into a cohesive, fighting team. It's a critical step in the pre-deployment training cycle and a prerequisite for the battle group's Joint Task Force Exercise.

COMPTUEX is normally conducted during a two-week to three-week period six to eight weeks before JTFEX. Successfully completing the COMPTUEX certifies the carrier and its air wing as qualified for open ocean operations.

COMPTUEX consists of an 18 day schedule of event (SOE) driven exercise, and a 3 day Final Battle Problem (FBP). It is conducted and directed by the training carrier group commander, and is focused on developing the carrier/air wing team into a cohesive unit and, if additional battle group (BG) assets are available, integrating these units into the associated deploying BG. In addition, the carrier/air wing team and available BG units will develop basic war fighting proficiency in coordinating BG operations that will be further defined during the advanced phase of training. The deploying BG commander, as ISIC closely monitors the progress of the carrier and air wing team. Integration of the deploying BG commander's staff with the training carrier group commander's staff occurs at the outset of COMPTUEX. FBP is a three day exercise monitored by the training carrier group commander and portions of his staff. It is designed to stress the BG staff, carrier/air wing and BG units across all warfare areas. When proficiency is demonstrated, the training carrier group commander will submit a recommendation on the CVBG readiness for advanced phase training to the numbered fleet commander.

The Sunliners of VFA-81 prepared for their June 2000 Deployment aboard the USS George Washington (CVN-73) as the Inter-deployment Training Cycle (IDTC) began in earnest with the strike fighter advanced readiness program (SFARP) Air-to-Air Det in Key West during September 1999. During March 2000 the COMPTUEX was one of the final stages of the work-up cycle. Unable to work in the Puerto Rican OPAREA because Vieques target is closed, the Liners' "March Madness" consisted of finding training opportunities elsewhere. The George Washington Battle Group broke new ground and developed new exercises that could be implemented stateside. After using targets in northern Florida, the Battle Group then transitioned to the southwestern Florida coast for training in the Key West OPAREA and Avon Park Range. For the final weeks the Liners found themselves getting reacquainted with the cradle of Naval Aviation by utilizing the Pensacola and adjacent Eglin Ranges. The multiple ranges being utilized made target study a high priority as pilots had to be familiar with varied impact sites. Valuable training was also achieved in the air-to-air arena with CVW-8 providing orange air for the Air Wing during the war scenario. The Liners stayed busy throughout the six week period as COMCARGRU 4 evaluated the GWBATGRU's ability to perform in some very challenging real-world scenarios. In addition to traditional COMPTUEX events, AIR WING pilots honed their acquisition skills by locating specific targets in various east coast U.S. military ranges. These "needle in a haystack" events were a direct result of the targeting challenges encountered during recent operations in Kosovo.

After more than five weeks of hard work, long hours and most importantly, productive training, the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Battle Group was one step closer to deployment readiness. The battle group successfully completed its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), followed by participating in the joint service Fleet Battle Experiment - Hotel before returning to homeport 01 September 2000. COMPTUEX, conducted primarily in the Puerto Rican operating area, was the battle group's intermediate phase of pre-deployment training. During the exercise, Truman, Carrier Air Wing 3 and the other battle group ships trained in multiple mission areas, including overland strike and anti-air engagements. Battle group surface combatants engaged in gunnery exercises off Vieques using inert rounds. They also fired both surface-to-air missiles and surface-to- surface missiles.

Navy F-14 Tomcats and FA-18 Hornets dotted the skies over the Gulf of Mexico and the Eglin range Jan. 23-26, 2001 as the Navy conducted its Composite Unit Training Exercise. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, also known as "The Big E," accompanied by a 12-ship battle group that included cruisers, guided missile destroyers, destroyers, a guided missile frigate, a supply ship and attack submarines took part in the exercise. Navy aircrews flew day and night missions and dropped inert and live ordnance on Eglin ranges. This COMPTUEX was divided into two phases to accommodate the battle group's participation in Exercise Unified Warrior, a multi-national missile exercise scheduled in mid-March 2001. The second phase of COMPTUEX was completed in concert with Unified Warrior. This was the second time COMPTUEX had been accomplished at Eglin. The first came Mar. 21-April 3, 2000. At that time, Navy aircrews from the USS George Washington dropped approximately 400 bombs on Eglin ranges.

In June 2001 F/A-18 Hornets from Strike Fighter Squadron Eight Six (VFA-86) Sidewinders, Marine Fighter-Attack Squadron Two Five One (VMFA-251) Thunderbolts, and Strike Fighter Squadron Eight Two (VFA-82) Marauders lined the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). Aircraft from the ship's embarked carrier airwing made ordnance drops on the Vieques island training range with 500 pound inert (unexploding) practice bombs. The scenario for Theodore Roosevelt, COMPTUEX is that two fictitious countries, Vandal Land and Dove Land, are disputing possession of Vieques and control of the Virgin Pasage. The US supports Dove Land, which controls half of the island as well as territories included in St. Thomas and some other nearby islands as well as simulated land territories actually in the ocean. Vandal Land, which includes Puerto Rico and simulated territory in the ocean, is an aggressive country controlling part of the island and set on taking over the rest. Over two weeks, the TR Battle Group conducted many exercises and shows of force to come to the aid of Dove Land, stabilizing the region and showing its support. Vandal Land forces used A-4's and Lear Jets to practice electronic warfare on the TR Battle Group. Carrier Air Group 17 sent aircraft to be Vandal Land aggressors during an air defense exercise. In addition, planes will be attacking simulated and real targets afloat and ashore. Ships shot at towed targets, and smaller boats in the group tested 5-in. guns on a 20-foot target boat.

In October 2001 the 13th MEU embarked its combat power aboard the amphibious ships of the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group to solidify the Navy-Marine Corps team and its title as the nation's force in readiness. The MEU and Amphibious Squadron Three's (PHIBRON 3) first at-sea period, Compatibility Training Underway Exercise, was conducted Oct. 2-17, off the Southern California coast. COMPTUEX was the first time Marines and Sailors of the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group planned and executed ship-to-shore missions. The MEU/ARG team exercised its ability to conduct special missions from ships off the coast of Southern California to land-based objectives on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and San Clemente Island. San Francisco Fleet Week was cancelled after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., so the 13th MEU stacked its schedule with three more special missions, totaling 15 in a 16-day at-sea period. Cancellation of Fleet Week enabled the MEU/ARG team to tailor a more robust training package. The exercise has been planned for months and is a major stepping stone, as it is the only shipboard training the 13th MEU will conduct hand-in-hand with Amphibious Squadron Three (PHIBRON 3) before it tested for a Special Operations Capable (SOC) designation. Being SOC qualified allows the 13th MEU/USS Bonhomme Richard ARG to set sail for its upcoming six-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf regions. Training missions for COMPTUEX displayed the full gamut of core capabilities of an expeditionary force in readiness. During COMPTUEX, the 13th MEU completed a boat raid, two Maritime Special Purpose Force missions, a mechanized raid, an Enhanced Nuclear, Biological and Chemical scenario, a mechanized Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, a light armored vehicle raid, a Vessel, Board, Search and Seizure, a long range helicopter raid, a humanitarian assistance exercise, a non-combatant evacuation exercise, a helicopter-borne TRAP and a mass casualty drill. On the final day of COMPTUEX, the MEU/ARG team executed the hallmark mission of the MEU - a conventional amphibious assault, like those conducted during World War II.

The USS John F. Kennedy battle group successfully completed the intermediate level, Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) at the Puerto Rican Operating Areas, Sat., Oct. 13, 2001. COMPTUEX is an exercise designed to combine the many elements of a U.S. Navy battle group into a cohesive fighting force in preparation for overseas deployment. Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW 7) and the Kennedy qualified for blue water or open-ocean certification, demonstrating the ability to launch and recover aircraft without shore-based support during the exercise. The exercise began shortly after getting underway Sept. 11 and included naval surface fire support (NSFS), ship-to-shore gunnery training and air-to-ground bombing using inert ordnance. Kennedy Battle Group became the first battle group to employ the Navy's cooperative engagement capability (CEC) during COMPTUEX and will be the first to deploy with it.

On 01 April 2002 ships and aircraft of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Battle Group commenced use of the Vieques Island inner range in conjunction with their Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX). The exercise also utilized the Northern and Southern Puerto Rican Operating Areas and will involve complex battle group training events, naval surface fire support training and air-to-ground bombing. COMPTUEX is an intermediate level battle group exercise designed to forge the Battle Group into a cohesive, fighting team. In accordance with presidential directives, all training on Vieques utilized inert (non-explosive) ordnance.

Conducted by the commander of Carrier Group 4, Rear Adm. Lindell Rutherford, it is a critical step in the pre-deployment training cycle and a prerequisite for the battle group's Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX), scheduled for later this month. Successful completion of COMPTUEX also certifies the carrier and its embarked air wing as qualified for open-ocean operations. The George Washington Battle Group is commanded by Rear Adm. Joseph A. Sestak Jr. Units participating in COMPTUEX include USS George Washington (CVN 73) with Carrier Air Wing 17 and Destroyer Squadron 26 embarked; guided-missile cruisers USS Normandy (CG 60) and USS Monterey (CG 61); guided-missile destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Laboon (DDG 58) and USS Mahan (DDG 72); destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD 968), guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59), attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) and oiler USNS Supply (T-AOE 6).

For the crew of USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), 2002 brought the beginning of an extensive cycle of preparations for the destroyer's upcoming deployment. These preparations began on Monday, January 7th, when Paul Hamilton left its homeport of Pearl Harbor and began its transit to San Diego, California for the start of Composite Task Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) 2002. COMPTUEX is a series of exercises designed to prepare the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Battle Group for its upcoming overseas deployment. Paul Hamilton departed San Diego on Friday, January 18th, and embarked on COMPTUEX '02. The crew was ready and excited to work closely with the ships and aircraft of the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group.

The three weeks of COMPTUEX proved to be of great benefit to Paul Hamilton and the rest of the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group. While operating off the coast of Southern California, the battle group engaged in a variety of exercises to foster the necessary teamwork and coordination that will be essential for a successful deployment. Paul Hamilton found itself in many different and exciting roles during the course of COMPTUEX. During air defense exercises, Paul Hamilton was able to successfully function as the secondary force air warfare commander. In this capacity crewmembers in the Combat Information Center (CIC) worked to control and coordinate aircraft from the Abraham Lincoln's air wing to prosecute threats to the battle group.

Paul Hamilton Sailors also found themselves engaged in numerous anti-submarine warfare exercises during the course of COMPTUEX. Requiring the analysis of sonar data, the control of both patrol aircraft and helicopters, and close communication between ships of the battle group, these exercises helped to improve the crew's ability to track submarines. Sonar Technician Surface First Class Gary Osborne observed, "Searching for actual submarines in a real environment gave our sonar team the opportunity to hone skills that we continuously practice during trainers."

Although much time was spent practicing warfare above and underneath the sea, there was still time for Paul Hamilton to engage in age old surface warfare tactics such as naval gunnery and boardings. The ship spent a day off the coast of San Clemente Island engaged in a shore bombardment exercise. Again, coordination and communication were key as Paul Hamilton's gunnery team worked hand-in-hand with close air support fighters and spotters on the ground to ensure that the training was both effectively and safely executed.

Frequent maritime interception operations exercises kept Paul Hamilton's bridge and boarding teams busy throughout COMPTUEX. These exercises allowed the teams the opportunity to refresh their boarding skills in preparations for executing similar missions in support of United Nations sanctions during the upcoming deployment.

The USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Battle Group began a unique, two-week Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) Jan. 10 2003 to take the final steps in preparation for deployment. Nimitz, the battle group commander's operating platform, is central to the success of the exercise.

CARGRU-1 plans the COMPTUEX period and uses it to give intermediate-level training to the battle group.

The usual 21-day COMPTUEX normally is designed in two distinct phases.

Phase I is governed by a detailed schedule of events (SOE). The SOE is designed to provide task training for the battle group and warfare commanders.

Phase II, the final battle problem, is a scenario with no SOE. The battle group, without knowing what is coming, must respond to the situation as a coordinated, combat-ready force to complete the phase.

This time, Nimitz battle group's COMPTUEX will be compressed to 13 days, due to real-world events.



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