Decatur, Benfold Practice BMD Exercise 
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Phillip Pavlovich 
SAN DIEGO - San Diego-based ships USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Benfold (DDG 65), along with Norfolk-based USS Stout (DDG 55), participated in a ballistic missile defense exercise (BMDX) Aug. 23-27.

"This exercise is important because we don't want our skills to atrophy, because this mission has real world ramifications," said Lt. Hal Vasquez, Decatur's combat systems officer.

The BMD mission is carried out by Aegis cruisers and destroyers equipped with ballistic intercept missiles in order to shoot down opposing missiles targeting U.S. ships and bases.

"We track and destroy simulated missiles," said Vasquez. "This is an opportunity for our watchstanders to conduct BMD operations with other ships and commands."

The exercise tested the ship's and crew's capabilities, further improving mission readiness.

"I appreciate any time I get a chance to train and better myself as an individual," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Tyler Wyman aboard Decatur.

Tactical Training Group Pacific (TACTRAGRUPAC) ran the exercise generating various testing scenarios for the participating ships to respond to. The training scenarios were based on potential missions ships might conduct in their areas of responsibility when deployed.

"This exercise is a capstone event for missile defense deployers," said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Klobukowski, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet's surface warfare and BMD officer.

BMDX is a coast-to-coast synthetic integrated exercise that is designed to prepare ships deploying for BMD missions via live data link and communications. Synthetic training can incorporate tactical challenges that can be impractical or impossible to create with live training at sea.

BMD is a key war fighting capability for the U.S. Maritime Strategy, which calls for credible combat power to be continuously prepared to protect America's vital interests.

Decatur and Benfold help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile Area of Responsibility in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.
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