The U.S. Navy’s Ronald Reagan Strike Group, including Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), participated in an air defense exercise (ADEX) while underway in the Philippine Sea July 6-7.
The ADEX was organized and planned by Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70 staff and crewmembers aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), the Air Defense Commander for the Ronald Reagan Strike Group.
“Conducting force air defense effectively requires us to train together to defeat the threats that exist in today’s complex environment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Watkins, Antietam’s executive officer. “We push each other to operate at higher levels by taking advantage of each unit’s strengths in live scenarios. Training in such a way improves the overall air defense of the strike group.”
The ADEX was designed to aggregate 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.
“Integrating with USS Milius during the recent ADEX allowed CVW-5 to execute a joint engagement zone pairing weapons and sensors to defend [USS Ronald Reagan] from all inbound threats,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Crouse, Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 operations officer, ADEX lead. “Solid execution by the team resulted in mission success.”
During the ADEX, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Milius and CVW-5 worked together to train in warfare areas such as identifying aircraft, command and control, fires de-confliction and creating a common tactical picture with fused intelligence data.
“This event gave Milius a real opportunity to execute fleet air defense as a total ship,” said Cmdr. Jon Hopkins, Milius’ executive officer. “Success depended not only on the combat watchstanders; all hands played a part, from the bridge team’s ship handling, to the engineers and the supply department. It was a total ship effort and a great way for all Sailors to gain experience.”
Milius is the most recent forward-deployed Navy vessel, having joined U.S. 7th Fleet as part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 after completing its homeport shift from San Diego to Yokosuka, Japan, May 22.
“Milius has been training for almost two years to conduct operations such as these,” said Senior Chief Fire Controlman (Aegis) Jeremy Rasnick, Milius’ combat system maintenance manager. “The opportunity to exercise our skills with the Ronald Reagan is an awesome culmination of that training and hard work.”
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.
“It’s sets and reps, just like you’re working out; if you don’t do it for a while your muscles atrophy,” said Cmdr. Jason D. Fox, director of plans and exercises for CTF 70. “This keeps us sharp and ready to respond.”
The Ronald Reagan strike group is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.