120912-N-TX154-175 PACIFIC OCEANĀ - The forward deployed Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) launches a Harpoon Missile from the aft missile deck. Cowpens is participating in a live fire exercise as part of Valiant Shield 2012. The live fire event sank the ex-USS Coronado (AGF-11) providing the Cowpens crew with the opportunity to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting and live firing against a surface target, enhancing combat readiness of deployed units. Strict environmental compliance is observed during all SINKEXs. Each SINKEX is required to sink the hulk in at least 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) and at least 50 nautical miles from land. Surveys are conducted to ensure that humans and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly/Released)
Exercise Valiant Shield Kicks Off 
ANDERSON AIR FORCE BASE, GUAMĀ - More than 25 U.S. joint forces began Valiant Shield 2012 (VS12) in the Guam operating area Sept 11.
VS12 is a week-long, U.S. only exercise with a focus on integration of joint training.
"Joint exercises such as Valiant Shield provide opportunities for integrated joint operations in a blue-water environment," said Rear Adm. J.R. Haley, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70. "Training opportunities as a joint force where we detect, locate, track and engage units across air, sea, land and cyberspace allow us to train as we fight, making us better prepared as a maritime force."
Such training isn't limited to responding to military conflicts.
"We are here to practice the full spectrum," said U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Krug, the exercise lead for the U.S. Pacific Fleet Command. "We're (training for a range of needs) from initial war fighting to humanitarian assistance relief."
The exercise will provide each branch the chance to prepare in case of a real life emergency.
"We don't get to operate on a scale this large very often," said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Daniel R. Gutknecht, a pilot with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "It is really important for us to be able to operate effectively, not only with other Marine Corps units, but with the other services within the U.S. military."
VS12 gives all branches a unique opportunity to become familiar with one another.
"It's a great opportunity to work together jointly with the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force," said U.S. Air Force Col. Jack Stokes, the Air Force lead for this exercise. "These chances are few and far between so any opportunity we get is a great chance to fine-tune our technique to become more reliable and more capable to meet any kind of contingency."
High-level, joint training among U.S. military forces ensures the U.S. military remains the preeminent military power in the 7th Fleet area of operations, capable of honoring its security commitments to its Asia-Pacific allies and partners.
"The U.S. seeks to reassure the [Asia-Pacific] region that the U.S. military is an engaged and trusted partner, committed to preserving security and maintaining regional stability," said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington's command officer. "Valiant Shield is a clear illustration that U.S. forces are prepared to rapidly respond to any crisis across the spectrum of operations from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to armed conflict."
VS12 is the fourth exercise in this series, which has occurred every two years since 2006.
The following units are among those participating.
U.S. Navy:
* Task Force 70 (CTF 70)
* USS George Washington (CVN 73)
* Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW 5)
* Destroyer Squadron 15 (CDS 15)
* USS Cowpens (CG 63)
* USS Mustin (DDG 89)
* USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62)
* USS McCampbell (DDG 85)
* USS Chafee (DDG-90)
* USS Chung Hoon (DDG 93)
* USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE-6)
* USNS John Ericcson (T-AO-194)
* Patrol Squadrons (VP) 5, 8, 40 and 69
* Air and test Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1
* Special Project Patrol Squadron (VPU) 2
* Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1
* Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132
U.S. Air Force
* 613 Air Operations Center (AOC) Det.
* 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS)
* 18th Aggressor Squadron (AS)
* 506th and 909th Air Refueling Squadrons (ARS)
* 551st Airborne Air Control Squadron (AACS)
* 12th Reconnaissance Squadron (RS)
* 527th Space Aggressor Squadron (SAS)
* 25th Space Range Squadron (SRS)
* 69th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron (EBS)
U.S. Marine Corps
* Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA(AW)) 225
* Marine Aerial Refueling Squadron (VMGR) 152
* Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) 4
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