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Joint Task Force Exercise Challenging for All Hands

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040414-09

Release Date: 4/15/2004 3:48:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class Shevonne L. Hudson, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors from the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) are breathing a sigh of relief now that their Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) has come to an end. The 10-day event, led by Commander, Carrier Group 7 Rear Adm. Patrick Walsh, ended April 8.

Now certified "ready for deployment," the crew can relax before heading back to sea.

This was the first Joint Task Force Exercise ashore for the staff of Commmander, U.S. 3rd Fleet since moving off of its command ship, USS Coronado (AGF 11) in September. Although not at sea during the exercise, the men and women working in the new headquarters buildings atop Point Loma shared the same hours with the CSG.

During the exercise, the planners were located within the walls of the Joint Exercise Control Group (JECG), also called the "white cell." The dark room, void of windows and lit only by the dim light of computer screens, was filled with two rows of computers set up for monitoring activities of the exercise.

Intelligence and operations personnel maintained 24-hour watches during the simulation.

"The crew here spent countless hours researching and planning to come up with real world scenarios for the messages," said white cell Training and Readiness Leading Petty Officer Intelligence Specialist 1st Class (SW) Christopher Miller. "Without Intel, the exercises would not be very effective."

JTFEXs typically deal with an opposing force of some kind. In the JECG, the group of people primarily responsible for opposition force planning sat in the front row. White cell Submarine Officer Lt. Tim Shuvert said submarines are the basis for creating real world scenarios.

"There is no real world threat without submarines," he said. "Since the presence of submarines serve as potential threats to us, it was important to include that scenario in the exercise."

Another behind the scenes force was located in the Joint Operations Center. Officers and senior enlisted Sailors manned computers and kept track of the operations in real time. Lt. Cmdr. Dan Dusek, assistant battle watch captain, said the responsibility of the officers manning each station was a critical element of the entire exercise.

"We would not have been able to function if each station were not manned," he said. "Every officer here is a resident expert in each of their warfare areas. Everyone's job here is important."

Now that JTFEX is complete and the Stennis CSG is certified and ready for deployment, all participants at sea and ashore can rest easy, knowing the hard work and many hours put forth were worth every moment.

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