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Stennis Strike Group Begins Final Exercises Before Deploying

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040322-07

Release Date: 3/23/2004 5:56:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class Gabriel Owens, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Strike Group departed from its homeport in San Diego in March for a three-week exercise off the coast of California in preparation to deploy later this summer.

The Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) is one of the final opportunities to train the entire carrier strike group (CSG) and rehearse how the CSG will respond when called into action, according to Rear Adm. Pat Walsh, commander, John C. Stennis Strike Group.

"Ultimately, if our material readiness is sound, our personnel are proficient in procedures, and our execution is safe, we will be well positioned to answer all bells," said Walsh.

The strike group includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83), guided-missile frigate USS Ford (FFG 54), Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716), the replenishment ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7), and for this at sea period, a Canadian coalition ship, HMCS Calgary.

The exercise tests several different aspects of warfare readiness of the strike group, from its ability to replenish at sea and gather intelligence to its ability to conduct combat operations across the spectrum of multiple warfare areas.

JTFEX is the culmination of training and preparation for an imminent deployment overseas. This exercise requires the Stennis Strike Group to integrate all war fighting assets to operate and be successful in a multi-threat, multi-dimensional environment.

During the exercise, commanders must analyze mission requirements, prioritize and allocate assets, respond to constant change, and develop calculated responses to real-world scenarios - scenarios that could very well face the strike group while on deployment.

The underway exercise presents a demanding test of the Stennis Strike Group's techniques, tactics and procedures that help ensure the ships are ready for any mission.

Walsh emphasized the importance of staying focused on training and coordination. "It is absolutely essential each unit has a positive communication path with (other units)," said Walsh. "In every operation, the essential piece of tactical information is almost always there. The challenge is recognizing it, reacting to it, and communicating it across the force so it can be acted upon."

"This exercise will fully test the warfare readiness of Stennis sailors," said Capt. Mark Sickert, Stennis' executive officer. "We are well-trained, ready and prepared to deploy."

"JTFEX represents more than a single milestone in our training continuum. It also serves as an opportunity to gage our readiness," said Walsh. "Undoubtedly, we will face a myriad of challenges when deployed that no one could ever predict."

Walsh explained the success of the strike group depends on a shared commitment to mission and to each other. "We need to be ready now. I am confident of the abilities, experience, talent and judgment of the leaders and Sailors of the John C. Stennis Strike Group."

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), a Nimitz-class carrier, is the flagship for the JCS Strike Group. Commands embarked on the carrier include Commander, Carrier Group (CCG) 7; Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14; and Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21. CCG7 directs the entire strike group's activity through CVW 14 and DESRON 21.

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