PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) – In the blue light of the Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70 Command Center watch floor sit people of varying rank and job titles. Bright screens reflect in eyes constantly searching for updates and changes to the information displayed. Most of the watch floor is occupied by dark blue coveralls and black steel-toed boots, but one set of screens is occupied by men in green uniforms and tan boots with tread better suited for dirt than the nonskid they have been trekking on for the past 10 days.
While the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) was preparing for the start of Valiant Shield 2016 (VS16), two officers and one noncommissioned officer from the 12th Marine Regiment forward-deployed to Okinawa, Japan, and the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab from Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Washington, D.C., embarked the ship.
The small detachment was brought on board as the Commander, Task Force 79 Ground Fires Liaison Officer (LNO), Air Fires LNO and Joint Automated Deep Operations Coordination System (JADOCS) cell to CTF 70 during VS16.
Throughout the exercise the Marines could be found on the watch floor monitoring the daily activities of the multiple amphibious assets out in the field. Each time they were on the watch floor, the interaction with the Navy watchstanders furthered the interoperability between the ground and sea forces.
“The direct communication between the blue, Navy, and the green, Marine Corps, team is invaluable,” said Lt. Col. Brian Oberg, U.S. Army, team lead for the detachment. “To be able to talk and work service specific issues and how they mutually support the larger operation cannot be understated.”
Oberg said, the future of U.S. military operations will require an increase in joint operations and the opportunity to work together on the watch floor was important.
The detachment used Navy assets and programs to communicate with the forces located on the beach and in the air during amphibious focused events.
“The command and control assets available to facilitate every aspect of the single naval battle were astounding,” said Maj. Vince Dixon, U.S. Marine Corps, the Joint Term Air Controller (JTAC) for the team. “It was one of the most robust systems I have had the pleasure of working with in my 20 years of service as a Cobra pilot. To top it off, the skilled Navy watchteam accepted us as their own and ardently assisted in our integration.”
Due to the coordination on the watch floor, the Marines were able to successfully execute their portion of the overall VS16 plan with confidence, said Dixon.
From the Navy perspective, a group of unfamiliar uniforms was a significant contribution to the events
that took place on the watch floor.
"Valiant Shield gives Joint Forces in the Western Pacific a unique and challenging opportunity to exercise
high end warfighting tactics, as well as hone joint procedures that are key to maximizing the effectiveness
of our command and control capabilities,” said Lt. Cmdr. Craig MacDonald, U.S. Navy, CTF 70’s Joint
Interface Control Officer (JICO). “Having the chance to execute live fire exercises combined with full
spectrum communications and Tactical Data Link integration greatly advances readiness in order to meet
any mission tasking issued to us in the future."
Prior to VS16, Marine detachments had embarked Navy ships however, during the 2016 exercise the
interoperability between Navy systems and Marine Corps systems was combined specifically on the
“During past exercises, Navy and Marine Corps interoperability was an experimental objective,” said
Capt. Michael Magyar, U.S. Marine Corps, Project Officer from the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.
“During exercise Valiant Shield 2016, III MEF, Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and the Sailors on board
USS Ronald Reagan were able to push further towards this objective, which in turn will help inform and
enable the future Fleet.”
During the course of 11 days the Marines were included in every aspect of the watch floor, standing
watch, working side by side their Navy counterparts and troubleshooting the new systems being
After 11 days the difference in uniforms was no longer noticed, the interoperability between
the green and the blue had successfully met its goal and the mission requirements were met.
VS16 is a biennial, U.S.-only, field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on joint training among U.S.
forces to conduct a range of missions in the air, sea, land, and cyberspace. Units participating include:
CTF 76/Expeditionary Strike Group 7 including USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Green Bay
(LPD 20), USS Germantown (LSD 42), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, and 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit and associated Marine-Air-Ground Task Force units; CTF 70/Carrier Strike Group 5
including USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Carrier Air Wing 5, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Barry
(DDG 52), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Stethem (DDG 63), USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS
McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), and other associated units.
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