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Rugged series

Rugged Arch is the name of a recent exercise conducted by CENTAF and Air Combat Command.

RUGGED NAUTILUS was a joint exercise aimed at discouraging terrorism through a show of force in the Arabian Gulf while the 1996 Olympics were underway in Atlanta, GA. Exercise Rugged Nautilus 96 was a joint exercise conducted by Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps components deployed to the Arabian Gulf. The exercise, conducted 01 July 1996 to 30 August 1996, tested USCENTCOM's ability to rapidly organize forces and establish command and control to execute air, ground and naval surface operations. The short-notice deployment exercise was designed to test U.S. Central Command's ability to rapidly gather and organize forces in theater. It also showed how joint forces can quickly establish a command-and-control element to execute air, ground and naval surface operations, and then exercise and evaluate their operations.

The Carl Vinson Task Group includes the guided missile cruisers USS Arkansas (CGN 41), USS California (CGN 36) and USS Shiloh (CG 67), fast combat support ship USS Camden (AOE 2), guided missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) and attack submarines USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) and USS Hawkbill (SSN 666). The ships steamed through the Indian Ocean, transited the Strait of Hormuz and took station in the Arabian Gulf in early July. While there, Carl Vinson was command and control ship for exercise "Rugged Nautilus," a joint, short-notice exercise designed to showcase U.S. ability to rapidly mobilize a flexible force which could operate independent of regional base support.

In August and September 1,200 Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on board the USS Tarawa deployed in the Gulf conducted a month-long exercise, "Rugged Nautilus 96," which used aircushioned landing craft to land the Marines around Subbiya, 30 kilometers north of Kuwait City.

On Sept. 3 and 4, Carl Vinson's Task Group was participating in Operation Southern Watch when it was directed to conduct Operation Desert Strike against targets in Southern Iraq. USS Shiloh and USS Laboon launched a Tomahawk cruise missile attack while F-14D Tomcats from Carl Vinson's embarked Carrier Air Wing 14 provided escort protection for U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers traveling over the Arabian Gulf. The following morning, additional ships from the Task Force fired Tomahawks to complete the operation.

Air Force fighters, bombers and tankers, assigned to Air Expeditionary Force III and stateside bases played a large role supporting "Rugged Nautilus," a joint exercise held in July and August 1996 in the Arabian Gulf. The Air Force role in Rugged Nautilus was embodied in AEF III, which flew 23 percent of the sorties in the exercise. Meanwhile, AEF III continued to support Operation Southern Watch over Iraq.

One typical AEF III mission for Rugged Nautilus originated from Barksdale shortly after noon Aug. 1. B-52s from the 2nd Bomb Wing flew to Udairi Weapons Range in Kuwait, where they each dropped 27 live 750-pound bombs. When the heavy bombers returned to Barksdale, they had logged more than 16,000 miles on the 35-hour round trip that included six refuelings. This was the first time bombers flew with an AEF, and officials say this showed the B-52's ability to reach out and touch someone anytime and anywhere. Aside from our around-the-world flight in 1994, this was the longest Global Power mission to date.

The AEF was a relatively new Air Force concept that uses aircraft, people and equipment from several different wings to deploy rapidly around the world wherever needed, and to hit targets hard and fast. More than 30 aircraft and 1,000 people from four bases made up AEF III in Qatar, providing rapid, responsive and reliable airpower to meet specific theater needs for a wide range of capabilities. The 4th Fighter Wing from Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., was AEF III's host unit. The rest of the force was made up of people and aircraft from the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla.; 20th FW, Shaw AFB, S.C.; and the 319th Air Refueling Wing, Grand Forks AFB, ND. The first AEF was an 18-aircraft proof-of-concept deployment to Bahrain in October 1995. The second AEF took 30 aircraft to Jordan in April. AEF III marks the first time the bombers have participated in theater.

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