Reagan Carrier Strike Group Launches First Air Missions
By Petty Officer 2nd Class Shane Tuck, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service
ABOARD THE USS RONALD REAGAN, Feb. 24, 2006 F/A-18E Hornets assigned to the "Eagles" of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron 115 on Feb. 22 became the first aircraft launched from the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan to drop ordnance on enemy targets in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Reagan is the Navy's newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and is currently on its maiden deployment. Commissioned in 2003, the San Diego-based aircraft carrier is part of a routine rotation of U.S. maritime forces in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
"Our air wing is comprised of the most advanced aircraft in the world and is a key player in deterring aggression from the insurgency within Iraq," Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, commander of Carrier Strike Group 7, said. "With the speed, agility and persistence of the modern carrier strike group, we intend to make a difference in helping to set the conditions for security and stability."
An important part of the strike group's mission in the Arabian Gulf is to support troops on the ground while they work to provide training and support to Iraqi forces, Miller said.
"The coalition efforts are designed to enable Iraqis to defeat the insurgency by building their own security force and political process," he said. "Our goal is to enable the Iraqis to rebuild and secure their country with assistance from the United States and coalition forces."
Capt. Terry Kraft, Reagan's commanding officer, emphasized that Reagan Carrier Strike Group has trained for months, and the officers and crew are prepared to successfully carry out any mission. The strike group is committed to setting conditions for security and stability within Iraq and providing the Iraqi people with the best opportunity for self-determination, he said.
"This is where the rubber meets the road," Kraft said. "Conducting operations in the Arabian Gulf is the culmination of our training."
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is supporting operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as well as conducting maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf. Such operations set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. They deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons and other material. Officials said.
The Ronald Reagan Strike Group is made up of Carrier Air Wing 14, Destroyer Squadron 7, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Reagan, the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, the guided-missile destroyers USS McCampbell and USS Decatur, the fast combat support ship USS Rainer, and Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit 11, Detachment 15.
The squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 14 include the "Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron 22, the "Fist of the Fleet" of Strike Fighter Squadron 25, the "Stingers" of Strike Fighter Squadron 113, the "Eagles" of Strike Fighter Squadron 115, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron 30, and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 4.
(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Shane Tuck is assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan.)