Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dugan Flynn
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

Sailors with Strike Force Training Pacific (SFTP) have come aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) to assist with Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) by training and mentoring JCSCSG Sailors on possible scenarios they may face on the upcoming deployment.

SFTP trains Sailors by analyzing methods in which the strike group deals with different situations, finding weaknesses in the strike group’s war fighting capabilities, and showing ways in which the strike group can improve.

“SFTP provides Fleet Commanders with combat ready maritime forces through integrated training, mentorship and assessment at sea,” said Commander Strike Force Training Pacific, Rear Adm. Thomas Cropper. “In pursuit of tactical excellence, we conduct composite warfare scenarios employing best practices to successfully operate against evolving threats in the contested battle space.”

SFTP sends analysts aboard ships with experiences they’ve gained from previous deployments to construct battle problems in order to share those experiences with others.

“We look at what a country would actually do when we’re about 12 nautical miles out from that area and try to apply that to actual exercises,” said Cryptologic Technician(Technical) 2nd Class (SW) Nick Fugate. “We try to make the scenarios feel as realistic as possible. That way the crew has already seen that country’s reaction to their presence and knows how to handle it. There’s still going to be some surprises, you can’t really train for real life, but we try to make it as real as possible.”

SFTP provides a glimpse of the big picture using all sources available for everyone’s knowledge said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Cam Wiseman.

“We provide a complete understanding of what’s going on, so the decision makers can make decisions based on what they know,” said Wiseman. “We’re trying to help the senior leadership figure out, should we strike that? Should we send our forces in to deal with that situation, whether or not we should drop bombs on targets, or just continue on. We’re trying to help them get the most accurate picture possible, to make the best decisions possible.”

Members of SFTP look at areas of deficiency and do their best to help the crew understand the problems so the ship’s own crewmembers can correct potential problems themselves before they reach deployment.

“Nobody likes being told they might be doing something wrong,” said Wiseman. “It’s tough, so we have to do it in a way where they’re open to receive it. We try to get the crew to think for themselves so they can make a decision on their own. We’re just trying to be as helpful as possible.”

Cropper went on to say with the guidance of SFTP, the Stennis crew has already shown improvements in many areas.

“Stennis has performed remarkably well in many mission areas,” said Cropper. “They have also greatly improved in areas where they were not as strong in the beginning. The ship and airwing team had some of the best performance in night carrier operations that we have seen in the last eight COMPTUEXs. This has not come easily. The hard work to prepare for operations at sea by all hands, the superb planning by Carrier Destroyer Squadron 21, Carrier Airwing Nine and Stennis leadership, and the tremendous focus on safe and professional execution by your strike group’s commanders and commanding officers made the difference.”

COMPTUEX prepares Sailors, staff, and commanders to go forward and meet any challenge, said Cropper. SFTP plays a vital role in that preparation to give the crew the confidence and knowledge to deal with any scenario while on deployment, from humanitarian relief efforts to dealing with piracy or warfare in any region of the world.

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