ABOARD USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (NNS) -- The USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Carrier Strike Group (JFK CSG) successfully completed its portion of Combined Joint Task Force Exercise (CJTFEX) 04-2, designated Operation Blinding Storm, in June and is now certified to deploy.
The strike group is under way off the East Coast and will head east in support of the global war on terrorism.
CJTFEX 04-2 marked the final step in a three-phase pre-deployment process for the strike group. Combining more than 28,000 U.S. and allied service members, the exercise tested the strike group's ability to operate in an intense coalition and joint environment.
"We are training the way we fight - together. CJTFEX duplicates what Sailors and their joint and coalition friends will experience overseas," said Rear Adm. Donald K. Bullard, Kennedy Strike Group commander.
During a four-day simulated war, John F. Kennedy; the guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69); the guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80); the destroyer USS Spruance (DD 963) - all homeported in Mayport, Fla.; the fast combat support ship USS Seattle (AOE 3) homeported in Norfolk, Va.; and the fast-attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN 769), homeported in Groton, Conn., tested their capabilities in every warfighting area.
Crews in Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, with squadrons from Oceana, Va., Jacksonville, Fla., and Whidbey Island, Wash., embarked Kennedy and flew more than 450 sorties.
"Our strength as a strike group rests in our people, and the versatility that comes with a balanced composition and integration of air, surface and sub-surface units," said Bullard.
As the culmination of nine months of preparation, the exercise prepared the Kennedy Strike Group for every theater, every ocean and any mission it might be tasked with in support of the president's orders.
"We are facing threats in this training that we might face in the real world," said Capt. William Massey, deputy commander of CVW 17. "If we face these threats in this training, we can do the real thing. We're ready."
This marked the first Joint National Training Capability (JNTC) integration event, during which training focused on functional coalition component commands. It provided high-quality, realistic training, preparing the JFK Strike Group for joint and coalition operations.
The multi-service exercise combined live and virtual elements of all U.S. services working as part of a coalition force that included the British carrier HMS Invincible.
In addition, CJTFEX 04-2 certified the strike group for deployment. Having completed their pre-deployment training cycles, John F. Kennedy, Vicksburg, Roosevelt, Spruance and Seattle now begin their regularly scheduled deployment. The ships will go where and when the commander in chief directs.
"We're combat-ready. My goal is to execute the orders of the president with some class, with some style and with some tenacity," said Capt. Steven Squires, commanding officer of JFK.
The JFK Strike Group is part of Summer Pulse '04, a simultaneous deployment of seven CSGs to as many as five theaters. Summer Pulse '04 demonstrates the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe.
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