Naval Forces Begin High-End Exercises In Pacific, North Atlantic This Week

July 31, 2017 1:13 PM
Military representatives from NATO, the European Union and the U.K. observe flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on July 25, 2017. US Navy photo.

U.S. naval forces will embark on a pair of naval exercises with regional Pacific and North Atlantic partners this week, practicing anti-submarine and air combat operations.

The pair of exercises aims to share knowledge and improve interoperability between the U.S. and allies, at a time when China and Russia have each conducted aggressive air actions and have participated in their own joint exercises.

Anti-submarine warfare exercise GUAMEX 2017 starts today off the coast of Guam, combining submarines and maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft from the U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Exercise organizers say GUAMEX, with about 40 operational scenarios, is designed to strengthen the regional partnership.

“GUAMEX provides an exceptional opportunity for our regional allies, friends, and partners to test our interoperability skills and hone our ASW techniques in a series of dynamic events. We don’t often get the chance to train with one another,” said a statement from Lt. Christi Morrissey, attached to Task Force 72 and the U.S. action officer for GUAMEX 2017. “We plan to put the crews through their paces, but also want to foster lasting relationships amongst the participants outside of the operational events.”

GUAMEX runs until August 12.

A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon assigned to the Mad Foxes of Patrol Squadron (VP) 5 is on display next to the newest maritime patrol asset of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Kawasaki P-1, in November 2014. VP-5 is forward deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting theater anti-submarine warfare operations and joint interoperability efforts with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. US Navy photo.

Meanwhile, starting tomorrow U.S. forces assigned to the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group will be joined in the North Atlantic by forces from the United Kingdom’s carrier strike group and other allies as part of the Saxon Warrior 2017.

Approximately 6,000 U.S. sailors will participate in Saxon Warrior, in which allied forces will participate in training scenarios involving strategic strike, air defense operations, combat air support, and enforcing no-fly zones. The exercise was last held in 2011. Along with the U.S. and U.K., other nations expected to participate include Germany, Norway, and Sweden.

“Saxon Warrior allows both U.S. and U.K. naval forces a chance to hone our interoperability skills. Particularly important is the alignment of U.S. carrier strike groups and the U.K. carrier strike group,” Navy Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Carrier Strike Group 2 commander, said in a Navy news release.
“This unique opportunity affords hands-on planning and execution across the spectrum of warfighting for both strike group staffs, strengthening our military understanding and capability.”

Earlier this month, while speaking at a Washington D.C. think tank, Michael Fallon, Britain’s defense minister, suggested the U.K. was considering stepping up activities designed to monitor Russia’s increased submarine activity in the North Sea and the Atlantic and ward off Russian intrusions into the airspaces of the United Kingdom and other nations.

The George H.W. Bush CSG includes USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), guided-missile cruisers USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) and USS Hue City (CG-66), and guided-missile destroyers USS Laboon (DDG-58) and USS Truxtun (DDG-103).

Saxon Warrior runs until August 10.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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