U.S. Navy Ronald Reagan Strike Group Conducts Air Defense Exercise

The U.S. Navy’s Ronald Reagan Strike Group, including Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), participated in an air defense exercise (ADEX) while underway in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 16.

The ADEX was organized and planned by crewmembers aboard Antietam, the air defense commander for the Ronald Reagan Strike Group and Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70 staff.

“Air defense exercises are the foundation from which we build our defense,” said Capt. George Kessler, commanding officer, USS Antietam. “The ADEX we ran is one in a series that improves our ability to defend the force and maintain the strike group’s ability to operate wherever international law allows.”

The ADEX was designed to bring together maritime forces and build proficiency at complex task requirements with in depth cooperation across the strike group. The focus was to ensure maximum number of strike group warfare commanders were participating in order to identify scenes that expand on unit level training.

“The strike group acted as a whole, using all aircraft and ships available to train in tactics in defense of the Ronald Reagan,” said Lt. j.g. Abdussalaam Kako, Antietam’s air warfare lead for planning unit and strike group-level defense. “We had good communication with all players and units during the exercise.”

During the ADEX, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and Antietam worked together to train in warfare areas such as identifying aircraft, command and control, fires de-confliction and creating a common tactical picture with shared intelligence data.

“Antietam prepared by drafting the pre-exercise message, detailing the players’ and units’ roles during the ADEX,” said Operations Specialist 1st Class Chase Collier, Antietam’s Top Gun air intercept control supervisor. “It feels good to be working with the carrier’s air wing and improve our abilities working with their pilots.”

The training helped keep the strike group and air wing’s skills fresh and better prepared them to work as a team in the event of real-world scenarios.

“Through frequent practice during ADEX, a sense of ‘muscle memory’ is gained,” said Collier. “This allows for less time between thought and action.”

Antietam is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

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