USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Exercise Valiant Shield 2006, taking place now through June 23, brings together more than 20,000 Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. The exercise focuses on real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces and detecting, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air and on land in response to a wide range of missions.
The exercise includes 28 ships from three carrier strike groups, as well as 290 aircraft, in a maritime environment for five days of integrated joint training, and invited 10 countries to observe the exercise near Guam.
Valiant Shield '06 is a unique opportunity for U.S. forces to exercise together, allowing participating units to work through a range of skill sets using a capability-based approach in a complex operational environment. Forces will exercise a wide range of skills, including maritime interdiction; defense counter-air and anti-submarine warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and command and control.
"Joint interoperability is the key to successfully responding to future contingencies in the Pacific," said Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7. "Exercises such as Valiant Shield give us an opportunity to ensure joint command, control and communication procedures are seamless."
CSG 7 and its flagship, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), is one of the three carrier strike groups participating in the exercise.
According to Miller, Valiant Shield '06 builds upon the annual Joint Air and Sea Exercise (JASEX), which demonstrated a U.S. commitment in the Western Pacific and has taken place for the past three years. U.S. Pacific Command forces will also take advantage of a series of linked exercises to ensure stability and security throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.
According to Miller, in today's constantly changing threat environment, it's essential to swiftly bring together integrated, versatile military forces in response to any regional contingency.
"U.S. forces are extremely flexible and can quickly respond anywhere in the world," said Miller. "Valiant Shield 2006 is a perfect example of forces rapidly coming together from many different geographic regions to operate together on short notice."
According to Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer, this year's exercise includes forces already operating in the Western Pacific. Kraft said U.S. forces are transforming to meet challenges to regional stability in the Asia-Pacific Region.
"Valiant Shield, along with exercises like Northern Edge and Terminal Fury, allow naval forces in the Pacific to exercise complete command-and-control scenarios across a wide range of geographic areas and operational situations," said Kraft. "These linked exercises are a key component to transforming forces for the 21st century."
According to Kraft, Valiant Shield '06 is an opportunity to bring together platforms that normally don't exercise collectively. The Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps operate a variety of combat and combat support aircraft designed to meet joint training objectives for the exercise. Altogether, 50 Air Force, 234 Navy and six Marine Corps aircraft are scheduled to participate.
Exercises such as Valiant Shield are only conducted if they're accomplished in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
"Safety and the protection of the environment are always top priorities for every U.S. military exercise and operation," said Kraft. "They were major considerations when planning conferences began for Valiant Shield early this year."
Participating units include the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group; USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Carrier Strike Group; USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group; embarked air wings; elements of the 5th Air Force; 8th Air Force; 11th Air Force; 1st Marine Air Wing; U.S. Coast Guard assets; military sealift command ships; and supporting headquarters' staffs.
Valiant Shield '06 is the first of what will become a biennial exercise and has been planned for months. The U.S. routinely deploys forces to the Western Pacific to maintain a stabilizing presence in the region. The exercise allows U.S. forces to exercise joint skills in peacetime to prepare for success during a contingency.
Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.