ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Teamwork and preparation are crucial elements in the relationship between the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, both of which play integral roles in Harry S. Truman Strike Group (HSTSG).
Preparations for HSTSG's upcoming deployment are ongoing, to include scheduled exercises for CVW 3, Nov. 12 to Dec. 21, at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon in the mountainous regions of Nevada and will define the readiness of the air wing.
"Fallon is advanced, tactical training in a very demanding environment against very demanding adversaries," said Capt. Mike Wallace, commander of CVW 3. "It allows us to fully operate as an air wing with very few constraints."
Fallon provides unique training to the air wing that is unavailable elsewhere.
"The test area is designed so that pilots will be able to deliver live ordnance against real targets," said Wallace. "They will have the opportunity to fight their way past air-to-air adversaries and an integrated air defense system, deliver their payload to the target, then fight their way back out."
The challenge presented by Fallon is pivotal to ensuring the readiness of CVW 3.
"Across the board, Fallon provides one of the most challenging environments for our pilots and the rest of our crew," said Wallace. "It is a more challenging environment than most of these Sailors and Marines will ever experience against actual adversaries in a war zone."
According to Lt. Cmdr. Robert Perez, a pilot assigned to the Bulls of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37, the dynamic training gained at Fallon is invaluable.
"From a junior officer's perspective, who may have just recently arrived at the command, it is an amazing experience that can be quite overwhelming at times," said Perez. "The scenarios test the pilot's ability to control the aircraft and their mental capability under duress. Sometimes, senior pilots are placed strategically behind mountains, so they can see how the more junior pilots would react to an adversary who has more skill and the element of surprise on his or her side."
According to Wallace, while the level of complexity is important, so is safety.
"We take safety very seriously," said Wallace. "Operational risk management (ORM) is always at the forefront of events like this. We brief the events, safety procedures and altitude deconfliction."
Despite the risks, Wallace has high hopes for Fallon.
"I expect that this will go very well," said Wallace. "We are very focused and dedicated to putting forth our best effort. Our squadrons are fantastic at what they do, and they receive a great deal of support from their chains of command."
According to Wallace, CVW 3 will return to Truman in January with honed and sharpened warfighting capabilities.
"That is when the team will really come together," said Wallace. "If everything goes according to the schedule, we will exit the training world after completing composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) and go out into the real world to complete our mission. That is exactly what we are here to do."
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