VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The pilot class of the new Aegis Ashore Team Trainer (AATT) graduated after completing an eight-week training course Feb. 27. Training was conducted by Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit (CSCSU) Dam Neck in conjunction with CSCS Detachment (Det) Norfolk, Afloat Training Group (ATG) Norfolk and Tactical Training Group Atlantic (TACTRAGRULANT). The pilot class students will be the first deploying watch team to the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System in Deveselu, Romania.
"Today's graduation is the result of years of development efforts on behalf of all of the trainer and curriculum developers," said Mike Kroner, deputy director for CSCS' Technical Support Directorate. "This pilot course has been a great opportunity to validate those efforts and ensure the watch teams have the skill sets necessary to execute their mission in Romania."
The AATT was funded by the Surface Warfare Resource Sponsor, OPNAV N96 and developed by the Surface Warfare, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA 21) Surface Training Systems (STS) Program Office (PMS 339) and Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD). The AATT facility is located onboard Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex in Gallery Hall. The trainer houses a mock-up of the shore-based Aegis Combat Information Center (CIC) and Communication Center and hosts a complete replica of the tactical warfighting, communication and information technology systems resident at the host nation in Europe.
The concept behind Aegis Ashore dates back to September 2009 when it was determined that more capable Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) was required to defend U.S. deployed forces, their families, and allies in Europe.
The complete AATT course of instruction is comprised of an eight-week training pipeline; a five week basic phase conducted by CSCSU Dam Neck, a one-week qualification phase conducted by ATG Norfolk, and a two-week certification phase conducted by TACTRAGRULANT.
During weeks one and two, CSCS instructed students on basic system capabilities and limitations, theater operational procedures, console operator familiarization, and BMD mission planning.
"Due to the diversity of rates, backgrounds and varying levels of BMD experience, our entire team was eager to begin 'base lining' and the CSCS cadre did not fail to deliver," said AATT student Lt. Daniel Rayburn. "We began with the history of BMD and ended with a detailed overview of command and control infrastructure effectively conveying all critical concepts and processes."
During weeks three through five, the watch team executed a series of increasingly complex tactical team scenarios, flexing the extensive capabilities of the new high fidelity trainer while turning the students into a cohesive tactical team.
"The quiet is occasionally broken by routine reports, casualty response procedures and engagement statuses culminating in a well-rehearsed rapid-fire report 'off-ship,'" commented Rayburn. "The seemingly relaxed demeanor gives no indication as to the intensity of the battle being waged as wave upon wave of simulated ballistic missiles are systematically detected, assessed and engaged by the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS)."
After the five-week basic phase, the crew completed their BMD Qualification (BMDQ) administered by ATG Norfolk. Following a successful BMDQ, TACTRAGRULANT supervised the execution of a BMD Exercise (BMDEX), in coordination with theater ballistic missile defense assets, as a capstone to the AATT course of instruction.
Cmdr. Andrew Carlson, AAMDS Romania's commanding officer, discusses the importance of the delivered training.
"The training provided to the inaugural watch team for Aegis Ashore Romania established a solid baseline for operation and tactical employment of this new capability and will prove to be pivotal in the development of our Sailors to deploy in the European theater," he said. "We will be ready to execute the President's initiative to provide BMD for our allies and partners in the region."
Capt. Bill McKinley, CSCS' commanding officer, discusses how AATT is a great example of how technology is improving the U.S. Navy's ability to train Sailors while saving both time and money.
"AATT allows us to train, qualify, and certify our Sailors so when they arrive in Romania they are immediately prepared to contribute," he said. "This represents the next evolution in combat systems training and sets a clear standard for what we should strive to achieve in our future training endeavors."
For information on the Center for Surface Combat System, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cscs/
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