USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At sea (NNS) -- Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 provided two aircraft and approximately 30 crew members in support of the weeklong operation for the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar Dec. 7.
This marked the first time VAW-126 has been part of an expeditionary operation. The squadron is typically attached to its air wing. However, this operation provided invaluable support to President Karzai's inauguration.
"We were selected as a group for expeditionary operations into Kandahar to provide air support," said "Seahawks" Executive Officer Cmdr. John Malfitano. "We were there to provide a command and control platform for the operation."
The operation began Dec. 4, when squadron members departed from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to Kandahar Air Base, approximately 1,000 miles away from where the carrier was operating in the Persian Gulf.
The team spent their first evening on the base setting up quarters for the week on the Kandahar military compound. They began planning the expeditionary operation early the next day, followed by a full day of rehearsal operations before the day of the inauguration.
According to Malfitano, the Truman team worked with all branches of the U.S. military and units from all over the world, including Romania, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
"It was great to interact with all of the different services, especially those from other nations," said Malfitano.
On the day of the inauguration, the two VAW-126 aircraft spent nine hours in the air, providing continuous air support and coverage for the arrival of distinguished visitors and the inauguration.
Distinguished visitors to the historic event included Vice President Dick Cheney, the highest-ranking American official to visit the country since 2001, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
"This is the first time in [Afghanistan's] 5,000-year history that a democratic election has taken place," said Malfitano. "You really feel privileged to be a part of that."
"I'm very proud of the planning, preparation and execution of the detachment," said Cmdr. Jeffery Davis, the squadron's commanding officer. "It's historic in many senses and demonstrative of expeditionary warfare from the sea."
According to Davis, the operation exhibits the Navy's newest doctrines of Sea Basing and Sea Strike, with the Navy being a primary force provider. Sea Strike is the ability to project precise and persistent offensive power from the sea. Sea Basing enhances operational independence and support for the joint force. Both are part of the Navy's Sea Power 21 vision.
The last returning team members, mostly maintenance personnel, returned to Truman Dec. 11.
The squadron is currently deployed with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 in the Persian Gulf. Truman and CVW-3 deployed from Norfolk, Va., Oct. 13, and is the only Carrier-Air Wing Team currently serving in the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.