ABOARD USS MOUNT WHITNEY (NNS) -- More than 28,000 U.S., U.K., and coalition service members completed the U.S. Joint Forces Command-directed and -sponsored Combined Joint Task Force Exercise (CJTFEX) 04-2, designated Operation Blinding Storm, June 21.
The exercise included an opposed night amphibious landing, live fire exercises, experimentation, and complex command and control of land, amphibious, air and maritime headquarters, and more than 60 coalition ships and hundreds of aircraft.
Notably, Blinding Storm represented the first Joint National Training Capability (JNTC) integration event where training focused on functional component commands. Members of Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) staff, including Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines at sea and in the field, were tested under demanding situations by live, constructive and virtual forces.
"The realism this major event gave each member of the coalition was tremendous," said U.S. 2nd Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 950. "The addition of the virtual and constructive forces to the sizable number of live forces in this JNTC exercise made for a much richer training experience. This ambitious transformational joint training capability is clearly the path we must follow in the future."
The exercise scenario, played out in waters off the eastern U.S. seaboard, pitted the fictional nation of Kartuna against an occupying fictional Koronan army with a strength estimated at about 10 divisions numbering 100,000, including the invasion force of 16,000. Coalition forces from 10 nations were called to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR), and eventually took action to expel the Koronans.
CJTFEX 04-2 presented U.S. and multinational forces with realistic and dynamic exercise scenarios that closely replicate operational challenges military forces routinely encounter around the world.
According to the Joint Warfighting Center's Army Col. Bryan Stephens, joint exercise control group director, CJTFEX 04-2 exercised the Department of Defense's number two and three defense priorities, which are strengthening combined/joint task force capabilities and transforming the joint forces.
"It is absolutely imperative that we train like we fight," said Stephens. "We fight with joint forces now, and we fight with coalition forces now."
"CJTFEX 04-2 has offered a most challenging opportunity for U.K. joint forces to practice operating with our principal ally," said Brig. Gen. David Capewell, Commander, National Contingency Command. "For the UK, the development of our transformation and joint training capability in a broad coalition is extremely important. To have done so through the unique opportunity that Blinding Storm has offered will pay huge dividends as we face the uncertainties of the future."
Participating forces trained using equipment and systems that incorporate the latest advances in technology, and support the full range of capabilities that may be required around the globe.
"The opportunity to exercise our combined air operations center in a combined joint environment was unparalleled," said Chief of Plans, Joint Forces Headquarters, Maryland National Guard, Air Force Col. Robert Hickey, who served as combined forces air component commander liaison officer for the exercise. "That experience and knowledge far exceeded that which we brought to the exercise, and this is just the first step in coalition and joint warfighting training."
Live forces conducted CJTFEX 04-2 throughout the southeastern United States, and along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States, while virtual participants joined the exercise from 20 different sites as far away as Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., and Fort Bliss, Texas. Participating in the exercise were forces from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Peru, Norway, Italy, Denmark, Turkey and France.
"I'm delighted to see the significant contributions of our coalition members, and the strides we made in collaboration, as well as in command and control, were of great value to our operational partnership," said Commodore Peter Walpole, Striking Fleet Atlantic deputy commander, who served as the Joint Task Force Chief of Staff.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet/NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/c2f.