George Washington Strike Group Increases Warfighting Capability through Joint Synthetic Training Exercise
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh, Commander, Task Force 70 Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 along with Army, Air Force, numerous Navy commands, and Australian navy completed a the four-day annual Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint (FST-J) 72 exercise, May 2.

As the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed CSG, this training hones the skills of warfare commanders and watchstanders through complex integrated synthetic training scenarios.

"This training gives us our final grooming for warfare commander integration and final opportunities to test the tactics and concepts of operations we have been working on over the months that we have been in port since our last Patrol," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet/CSG 5. "Warfare commander training, bonding on the watch teams and refinement of tactics techniques and procedures, if we get all three of those, then we have had a very successful and effective fleet synthetic training event."

Led by Tactical Training Group Pacific (TACTRAGRUPAC), the training allowed CSG 5 to increase its proficiency and maintain its readiness while pier side at Fleet Activities Yokosuka.

"TACTRAGRUPAC in San Diego and the detachment here in Yokosuka are real force enablers," said Montgomery. "These significant investments pay off many times over in increasingly effective and useful synthetic training here in the forward-deployed naval forces [FDNF]. If we did not have TACTRAGRUPAC, and the fleet synthetic training experiences, we could not achieve the level of warfighting readiness to operate in FDNF."

According to Capt. John Miley, TACTRAGRUPAC's commanding officer, their mission is to provide training to carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups, primarily for the staffs and warfare commanders. One of their means to accomplish their mission is through synthetic training. In a fiscally constrained environment, synthetic training provides training for units without them having to get underway.

"Synthetic is not a replacement for underway training, it is complementary to underway training." said Miley. "The beauty of synthetic training is that we are able to have ships that are in port, very widely geographically dispersed with operators using their command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems to affect the mission of the particular operation that we're training."

TACTRAGRUPAC trains on a much larger scale, allowing participating units and personnel to "prepare for the worst" by going through scenarios that are not fiscally and logistically feasible in a real-world training environment.

"From a robustness of threat perspective, we can do much more in a synthetic environment that we can in a real-world operational forces environment," said Miley.

This training plays a vital role in the qualification and readiness of the strike group.

"The quality of the fleet synthetic training expanded to such a degree that we now routinely rely on it to present to us a complex training environment that we can't normally achieve during underway operations," said Montgomery. "As a result, as a strike group, our annual fleet synthetic training exercises are key elements of our intermediate and advanced training cycle."

CSG 5 is embarked on USS George Washington (CVN 73) and includes Carrier Air Wing 5, Aegis cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Antietam (CG 54) and Destroyer Squadron 15. Together, these units form the U.S. Navy's only continuously forward deployed (and largest) carrier strike group and are critical combat elements of the U.S. 7th Fleet.
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