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Forces Combine to Train at Sea

By Maj. Stephen A. Cox, USMC
National Guard Bureau

ABOARD THE USS MOUNT WHITNEY, Gulf of Aden, Jan. 6, 2003 – The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa completed a two-day exercise with maritime forces from Combined Task Force-150 here today.

The two headquarters exercised operational staff procedures aboard Mount Whitney and Spanish flagship Navarra. Also, Mount Whitney, the German frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the German tanker Rhon served as maneuver and support elements throughout the training. Coalition force aircraft participated in exercise activities as well.

The training goal was to improve interoperability between coalition forces, highlighted by four distinct scenario-driven activities: communications testing across the full spectrum of systems; tactical maneuvering among the vessels; maritime intercept exercise; and coordinated live-fire attack.

The maritime intercept exercise, known as Visit, Board, Search and Seizure, saw forces from the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern boarding the Rhon, which acted as a rogue merchant ship. The Horn of Africa task forces aboard Mount Whitney monitored the mission.

Subsequently, the live-fire exercise focused on simultaneously employing the collective assets of the flotilla to attack a target at sea. Mount Whitney and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern initially fired individually on the target, and then the ships synchronized fire control processes to engage the target together. In addition to surface fires from the ships, U.S. Navy helicopters assigned to CJTF-HOA also participated in the exercise, delivering close-in fires.

Mount Whitney and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern also exchanged four crewmembers each during the exercise.

The exercise marks the first in a planned series of exercises and operations between CJTF-HOA and CTF-150 forces.

Spanish Rear Adm. Juan A. Moreno commands CTF-150. He is charged with leading a flotilla of warships from France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and the United States in searching for terrorist operatives and contraband while patrolling the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean areas around the Horn of Africa.

Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler commands CJTF-HOA, whose mission is to detect, disrupt and defeat transnational terrorist groups in the Horn of Africa region. This task force is also working closely with coalition partners to establish conditions leading to long- term stability within the region to deny the opportunity for re- emergence of terrorist networks.

The joint task force headquarters was formed to oversee operations in the Horn of Africa region for U.S. Central Command in support of the global war on terrorism. The headquarters arrived in the region Dec. 12 after sailing from Morehead City, N.C., aboard Mount Whitney, a sophisticated command and control ship homeported in Norfolk, Va.

(Maj. Stephen Cox is the public affairs officer for the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.)

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