PERSIAN GULF (NNS) -- F/A-18E Super Hornets assigned to the "Eagles" of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 115 became the first aircraft launched from the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to drop ordnance on enemy targets in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Feb. 22.
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," said Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, commander, Carrier Strike Group 7. "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."
According to Miller, an important part of the strike group's mission in the Persian Gulf is to support troops on the ground while they work to provide training and support to Iraqi forces.
"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 the 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.
"This is where the rubber meets the road," said Kraft. "Conducting operations in the Arabian Gulf is the culmination of our training."
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is currently supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf. MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons and other material.
The Ronald Reagan Strike Group is comprised of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Reagan, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), the guided-missile destroyers USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Decatur (DDG 73), the fast-combat support ship USS Rainer (T-AOE 7), and Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit 11, Det. 15.
The squadrons of CVW-14 include the "Redcocks" of VFA-22, the "Fist of the Fleet" of VFA-25, the "Stingers" of VFA-113, the "Eagles" of VFA-115, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support (VRC) 30, and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.
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