Warships from the U.S. Navy’s USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) participated in a proficient Live Fire With a Purpose (LFWAP) exercise in the Atlantic Ocean Nov. 19, piercing the morning sky with Standard Missile (SM) 2 Block IIIAs.
The warships included the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Mason (DDG 87), and USS Nitze (DDG 94).
LFWAP is a reinvigorated missile exercise (MSLEX) program designed to increase fleet lethality and tactical proficiency. It is more robust than a traditional MSLEX in that it provides a more intensive tactical training experience to the watch team.
“Having previously been on the exercise-development side of LFWAP, as the operational commander I’m extremely pleased to see how our CRUDES ships flexed their capabilities and strengthened how we operate as a team — as opposed to individual units — throughout this event,” said Rear Adm. John Wade, commander, CSG 12. “The LFWAP exercise is extremely valuable training for the entire strike group, and I look forward to incorporating lessons learned into our operations and seeing the result of the hard work these ships put in to increase our lethality during future missions.”
Since early 2016, when the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) was designated as the executive agent for commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s MSLEX program, over 80 surface combatants from the East and West Coast have completed LFWAP exercises. Earlier this month, Leyte Gulf and guided-missile destroyers USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) and USS McFaul (DDG 74) participated in a LFWAP exercise off the Eastern seaboard.
As combat systems technology improves, and in order to increase lethality, capability and readiness of U.S. Navy assets, LFWAP events continue to grow more complex. Each exercise enables crews to enhance their own tactics, techniques, and procedures, while improving operations with other guided-missile platforms and within the CSG construct. Taking lessons from previous iterations and completing tactically relevant and challenging LFWAP scenarios drive further success for the crews.
“The benefits will serve this crew well during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and deployment,” said Cmdr. Patrick Murphy, commanding officer of USS Bainbridge (DDG 96). “It elevated our proficiency and identified numerous shipboard processes that required improvement.”
Helping to identify and improve those processes are individuals known as Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI). Embarked on each ship during Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) and LFWAP events, WTIs lead a formalized plan, brief, execute, and debrief (PBED) process, and provide rapid debrief following completion of events. The tools and expertise they provide enable watch teams to critically assess their own performance and improve.
“[LFWAP] provided practical and effective training to the crew,” said Capt. William G. Musser, Commanding Officer aboard USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55). “WTIs were very professional in their mentorship and provided us with knowledge to improve our lethality on established tactics and procedures.”
Leyte Gulf’s Combat Systems Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Anthony R. LaVopa, echoed those sentiments. “Working with WTIs provided the ship and opportunity to increase our tactical proficiency in a realistic environment,” said LaVopa. “Through the preparation and execution of this event, Leyte Gulf learned a lot about our combat systems capabilities and furthered our proficiency in a tactical environment.”
The components of CSG 12 embody a “team-of-teams” concept, combining advanced surface, air and systems assets to create and sustain operational capability. This enables them to prepare for and conduct global operations, have effective and lasting command and control, and demonstrate dedication and commitment to become the strongest warfighting force for the Navy and the nation.
The Abraham Lincoln CSG is comprised of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 2, associated guided-missile destroyers, flagship Abraham Lincoln, and the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).