Saturday, May 23, 2009

U.S., Allies Prepared for Emergent Missions Following Joint Warrior

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Candice Villarreal

FASLANE, Scotland (NNS) -- Five U.S. Navy ships and a host of allied forces wrapped up multinational Joint Warrior 09-1 May 21 off the coast of Scotland after having successfully completed some of the world's most innovative and advanced warfare training available.

The exercise encompassed both traditional warfare exercises and Fleet Irregular Warfare Training (FIWT), focusing heavily on non-traditional warfare areas such as counterpiracy and theater security. The innovative FIWT is an invaluable tool for 21st century Sailors addressing and overcoming new, emergent threats.

While some U.S. Navy ships have undergone FIWT recently, the JW 09-1 exercise officially marks the first coalition-based FIWT implementation abroad.

"A significant portion of FIWT is focused on preparing commanding officers and crews to conduct forward deployed operations, in challenging environments, without the assistance of a strike group staff," said Rear Adm. Garry R. White, Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL). "The Royal Navy, as part of their series of pre-deployment exercises to include JW, trains coalition commanding officers and crews from a large number of navies to what we in the U.S. Navy would call 'FIWT.' By participating in JW, we train U.S. ships in coalition FIWT - a critical skill for deployed forces in the current operational environment."

The multiple platform, comprehensive maritime operations exercise provided a robust training environment for allies to prepare their maritime forces and improve interoperability for any combined operations in future global assignments. A number of coalition FIWT scenarios covered a broad spectrum of situations, including counterpiracy boarding exercises, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and air defense, all running concurrently with traditional warfare training evolutions.

"This is very important training for the U.S. Navy; it provides a unique opportunity to train in a dynamic coalition environment using our allies' tactics, techniques and procedures," said Rear Adm. White. "Our operations in the future will almost assuredly be in conjunction with our allies and coalition partners. This is a prime example of following the Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet's focus area of 'teaming with allies and partners in the execution of the maritime strategy.'"

According to Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Vice Adm. Mel Williams Jr., the U.S. will continue to train and certify carrier strike groups, amphibious ready groups, and maritime expeditionary units for high-end military and major combat operations. We will additionally ensure individual units are armed with the preparedness they will need to operate independently in modern complex environments.

"This is rare, focused, unit-level type training that is very realistic and similar to what they're going to see in the different fleets and theaters while deployed," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Violette, operations officer for Commander, Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 24. "Traditional warfare training is very good, and our Navy is skilled at it, but 2nd Fleet is doing a lot right now to tailor the training to what the independent deployers are going to experience."

USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), USNS Kanawha (T-AO 193), and COMDESRON 24 took part in the scenario-driven engagement, along with vessels from nine other members of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO). Both the JW exercise and coalition FIWT evolutions are expected to increase fleet efficiency and battle readiness for U.S. and allied navies alike.

"With FIWT, you have to be prepared to act independently, near land, in a very fast-paced and complex environment," said COMDESRON 24 Commodore Capt. John Kersh. "But at the same time, you have to be ready for heavy traditional warfare, like utilizing air defense and ASW. You have to be prepared to implement, simultaneously, all of the other training you've ever had."