MINA SALMAN PIER, Bahrain (NNS) -- Combined Task Force (CTF) 59 and other coalition logistic teams began the second phase of a crisis response exercise in the region on Nov. 1.
The beginning phases of the exercise, which began late September, led up to the current active exercise scenarios that will enhance coalition force's capabilities to assist regional nations in a time of crisis.
One of the goals of the crisis response exercise is to focus on the ability to support major humanitarian operations simultaneously while engaging in ongoing combat operations without degrading support anywhere in the world.
"I'm really looking forward to this exercise," said USS Wasp (LHD 1) Combat Cargo Officer Marine Chief Warrant Officer Brian Simon. "It's something that has never been tried before in this region. We're bringing together many different units and coalition forces to make one cohesive unit and get something done that's very important for the local populace."
Per the new maritime strategy outlined by the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, a new emphasis has been placed upon cooperative maritime relationships as the basis for global maritime security. The U.S. participation in the crisis response exercise plays directly into this mandate, and will ultimately help to strengthen and refine peaceful military-to-military relationships, and demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the coalition and the overall security of the region.
However, an exercise of this magnitude requires a great deal of planning and logistics so that it can accomplish its goals.
"We are in the execution phase of a crisis response exercise that has been in the planning for over eight months now," said Simon. "Without the coalition partners, none of this could happen. They are the backbone to this entire exercise."
Each facet of the exercise required detailed planning on the part of the various participants, and ranged from long-distance travel to grueling hours of loading the necessary supplies and equipment. Combined Task Force (CTF) 56, a construction battalion loaded equipment into the vehicle storage decks of Wasp, all of which will be used during the exercise to simulate getting vehicles on the ground to provide quick-response emergency aid in the event of a disaster.
"If logistics were not the focus of an evolution like this, the basic essentials that are required to keep personnel alive would not be available to them in a timely manner," said CTF 59 Expeditionary Logistics Officer Marine Maj. Marty Bartlett. "Over the last six or seven months we've been planning [this] exercise, to intensify our cooperation with coalition partners in order to conduct humanitarian disaster relief operations with foreign countries."
This past September, just after finishing up the multi-national training exercise off the coast of Panama, PANAMAX 2007, Wasp received emergency orders to assist with humanitarian relief efforts in Nicaragua after Hurricane Felix made landfall. Helicopters delivered food, water and other supplies to the outlying areas that were severely affected by the hurricane, and provided medical evacuation services in a number of serious cases.
"The Nicaraguan people were so thankful that our assets were there to help," said Simon. "And I think it proved something to the crew as well - that we are capable of succeeding in whatever capacity we set our minds to, whether it's combat-readiness, or helping our allied partners in need."
The Crisis Response Exercise is slated to last one week. In addition to the CTF 59 staff, CTF 56 and Wasp, exercise participants include: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, CTF 53, CTF 55, CTF 57, the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain, Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, Joint Communications Support Element, Standing Joint Forces Head Quarters, U.S. Air Force Central Command, and various coalition forces and regional countries.
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