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More than 15,000 U.S. and allied servicemembers will participate in Joint Task Force exercise (JTFEX) 03-1, Oct. 28 - Nov. 6, 2002, along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States, chiefly in the waters off Virginia and North Carolina.

JTFEX 03-1 will present U.S. and multinational forces with realistic and dynamic exercise threats that closely replicate operational challenges military forces routinely encounter around the world. It is designed to provide quality, realistic training to prepare U.S. forces for joint and combined operations. JFTEX 03-1 also provides the opportunity to certify the U.S. Navy's USS Harry S. Truman carrier battle group, the USS Iwo Jima amphibious ready group, and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit for deployment.

Participating forces will train using equipment and systems that incorporate the latest advances in technology, and which support the full range of capabilities that may be required in various geographic areas.

"This exercise provides the battle group with valuable experience in joint operations, while giving them an opportunity to refine [the] key tactical skills they will undoubtedly need while on deployment," said Vice Adm. Cutler Dawson, commander of the U.S. Second Fleet and Striking Fleet Atlantic, who will be the JTFEX 03-1 commander.

"Every battle group since 9-11 has forward deployed into harm's way and faced actual combat. This exercise represents a demanding test of the battle group's techniques, tactics and procedures that will help ensure that our forces are ready to fulfill any mission given them by the national command authority," he added.

Participating U.S. forces include the USS Harry S. Truman carrier battle group; ships and squadrons of the USS Iwo Jima amphibious ready group; and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked. Other participating nations include Canada, the United Kingdom and Peru. Additional support includes NATO units, other Navy and Marine units, U.S. Air Force strike and refueling aircraft, and U.S. Army active-duty and National Guard units.

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