From September 18 to 29, USS RUSSELL Sailors assisted in a ballistic missile defense Ground Test, Distributed (BMD GTD) exercise in San Diego, CA. RUSSELL Sailors were called on to operate a highly realistic laboratory replica of the shipboard Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System in order to assess the effectiveness of the system’s latest capabilities prior to fleet introduction.
RUSSELL’s contribution to the GTD was one portion of the overall event. The GTD is an integrated test of operability between the US military’s array of ballistic missile defense sensors. These sensors include mobile and fixed assets on both land and sea which are utilized in a phased approach in order to defeat a wide range of potential ballistic missile threats. The September GTD tested the system against many of the potential ballistic missile threat scenarios that exist in the world today. The event also allowed assessors to gather data to verify system configuration and make further improvements.
The September GTD was the second half of the larger Ground Test-07a exercise that RUSSELL Sailors participated in earlier in 2017. Because RUSSELL is stationed in San Diego, her crewmembers were prime candidates for participation. The event proved to be a valuable self-training opportunity in support of the overall ground test. RUSSELL watchstanders were given the chance to implement their tactics and procedures as different evolutions occurred. Chief Fire Controlman Brandi Jasso felt that the opportunity was valuable, “Integrating sensors, testing the doctrine, and becoming more familiar with how the system behaves was great. It was awesome to utilize all of the new system capabilities.”
Events like the ballistic missile defense ground test are valuable opportunities for both system designers and watchstanders as they work in unison to accomplish common goals. This self-training undoubtedly helped RUSSELL BMD watchstanders bolster their operational skills and will help them to succeed as they approach their post maintenance period warfare area certification exercises.