Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ronald Reagan Strike Group Underway for COMPTUEX

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Jennifer Kimball, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs
Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Michael Dominguez, of Los Angeles, waits for a launch cycle aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) departed San Diego March 17 to conduct a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California as part of the training cycle for a regularly scheduled deployment.

The goal of the 18-day exercise is to provide realistic training environments that closely replicate operational challenges that carrier strike groups might face during military operations around the world.

"The exercises we're participating in build our readiness because they're tailored to the real world and what we may encounter on the cruise," said Lt. Dave Haney, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 air warfare officer.

The exercise is evaluated by Commander, Strike Force Training Pacific and is designed to test the Sailors' abilities to operate in complex, hostile environments as a strike group.

"The exercise is strenuous and tests our maximum capabilities," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) William Holloway, one of Ronald Reagan's tactical information coordinators. "It's more in-depth than what we expect to see during deployment, so it prepares us for the unexpected."

The training encompasses all the warfare areas: surface, air and undersea. It also offers many training situations to assess how prepared the strike group is for deployment.

"It personally challenges my knowledge as a tactical data links operator and allows me to share my knowledge with the rest of the strike group," said Holloway.

More than 7,000 Sailors are working together during the exercise to hone their operational skills to succeed as a cohesive team.

"The training we do together while we're out here is really important. One squadron or one ship can't do it alone," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Constantino Dominguez, of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22. "But, if we train and work together, we will succeed together."

COMPTUEX is part of the Fleet Training Readiness Plan (FTRP) and is one of the final steps in preparing the strike group for deployment.

"FRTP training begins at the unit level. It starts out simple and progressively gets more complex," said Cmdr. William Minter, Ronald Reagan's operations officer. "It's important because it adds the strength behind the punch. We couldn't be as effective without this training."

For the past six months, each entity of the Ronald Reagan CSG has prepared individually. This is the first exercise where the entire strike group works together as one team.

"In less than six months, we've done what used to take a year," said Minter. "We'll be fully mission-ready thanks to hard work and dedication."

This exercise is a stepping block for the strike group. After they complete COMPTUEX they will participate in Joint Task Force Exercise, which is the final stage of training before the deployment.

"I'm proud of each Sailor's hard work to learn their jobs, because we may be called on to use those skills in the upcoming deployment," said Minter.

Successful completion of these exercises will ensure the strike group has attained the greatest training capabilities and is prepared to support any mission handed to them.

"It's a challenge we're capable of. Our men and women have already proven to be flexible for our nation's missions," added Minter.

Several aircraft, ships and submarines are supporting COMPTUEX by simulating coalition and opposition forces. The ships providing assistance for the exercise include: the frigates USS McClusky (FFG 41), USS Gary (FFG 51), and USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) as well as the destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88).

The Ronald Reagan CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. James P. Wisecup, is comprised of Commander, Carrier Strike Group 7, CVW-14, Destroyer Squadron 7, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS Howard (DDG 83) and the guided missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43).

The squadrons of CVW-14 include the "Redcocks" of VFA-22, "Fist of the Fleet" of VFA-25, "Stingers" of VFA-113, "Eagles" of VFA-115, "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 113, "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 139, "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support 30 and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 4.

Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named after the 40th U.S. president, and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.