USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) (HST) and the other ships in its strike group wrapped up a first-of-its-kind multinational exercise known as Majestic Eagle July 15.
The exercise, designed to enhance interoperability between allied maritime forces, was conducted off the coast of Morocco as part of Summer Pulse 2004.
Under NATO command, the exercise included ships and aircraft from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Morocco.
Commander, Striking Forces NATO Vice Adm. H.G. Ulrich visited Truman during the exercise, and had high praise for the entire strike group and the unique role these six ships played.
"The last couple of days have been 'free play,' where Harry S. Truman has been the opposition force, and the rest of the ships are being the NATO force under NATO command and control procedures," Ulrich said. "It's an honor for me to be out here and watch all these folks work so well together."
The leader of Truman Strike Group, Rear Adm. Michael Tracy, said the entire group was crucial to the success of the exercise. HST strike group comprises Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group (CCDG) 2 and Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 staffs, guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61), guided-missile destroyers USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Barry (DDG 52), and attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706)
"The cruisers, destroyers and submarines carried out multiple roles and missions, including exercising command and control and strike warfare, against air, surface and undersea threats, just to name a few," Tracy said.
Although Majestic Eagle is a first, Tracy said working with allied partners is nothing new.
"We have always been committed to engaging and being an integral part of the international community," he explained. "Improving our ability to operate with naval forces from many nations around the world is part of that commitment. The global war on terrorism only emphasizes the importance of the collective power and versatility of NATO and allied maritime forces."
The exercise was massive. Majestic Eagle brought 20,000 men and women from allied nations together with 30 ships, including four aircraft carriers from three different countries, and more than 350 aircraft.
Morocco, recently designated a major non-NATO ally by President George W. Bush, allowed use of its Cap Draa bombing range for live firing exercises. The exercise was designed to stress NATO tactics, techniques and procedures, and allow for seamless integration of allied forces.
Ulrich said the exercise was a resounding success. "It exceeded my expectations. We know now that we can come together on short notice and work under NATO command and control procedure and it works just fine.
"Communications that we thought would be a real challenge have not proven to be a challenge at all. We have four different air wings out here from three different countries, and we thought that, too, would be a challenge, but the only problem we really experienced that we didn't anticipate is the weather," Ulrich explained. "The weather over the target area hasn't cooperated at all, so we've had to flex on that, but that's the only real disappointment."
Tracy agreed with Ulrich's assessment of the overall exercise in general, and of the performance of the Sailors and Marines in his strike group in particular.
"It was superb," he lauded. "The men and women who make up the Harry S. Truman Strike Group have been role models for future deployers under the Fleet Response Plan (FRP) construct. Their hard work throughout the cycle has laid a solid foundation. Their sense of teamwork and mission accomplishment within the strike group, and now with other U.S. and allied forces, have been vividly demonstrated at home and abroad in this exercise. They define ready, capable and flexible."
Ready, capable and flexible is exactly what FRP is all about. Majestic Eagle was the culmination of Summer Pulse '04.
Summer Pulse '04 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups, demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe, in five theaters, with other U.S., allied and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy's first deployment under its new FRP.
Truman Strike Group has helped prove that this type of synergy is possible not just within the U.S. fleet, but also with our maritime allies throughout the world.
For more information about Summer Pulse '04, visit the CFFC Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm or visit the Summer Pulse '04 Navy NewsStand site at www.news.navy.mil/local/pulse04.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.