Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley

USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) completed a successful Joint Task Force Training Exercise (JTFEX) June 8 off the coast of Southern California.

“Our crew could not have performed better,” said John C. Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Reis. “It was through top down bottom up leadership intertwined with a collective sea warrior spirit that we consistently perform at such a high level. Sailors aboard Stennis are trained and ready to meet national tasking. Teamwork, superior skills and warfighting ethos will enable us to successfully meet any challenge we may confront during deployment.”

JTFEX is the second major training evolution for Stennis following Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in May.

JCSCSG is made up of John C. Stennis, CVW-9 (Carrier Air Wing 9), guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and DESRON 21; guided missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Pinckney (DD G91).

JTFEX was a week-long exercise designed to test JCSCSG’s ability to operate in a hostile environment.

Throughout JTFEX, JCSCSG dealt with an assortment of simulated attacks, such as torpedoes and missile attacks from enemy aircraft and ships. General quarters was called depending on the response needed.

“The idea of JTFEX is to stress the importance of procedures and planned responses to certain threats and get into a tactical mind-set,” said Lt. Ji Theriot, one of Stennis’ tactical action officers.

JTFEX tested the capability of JCSCG to operate with multinational forces and other military branches in a joint environment to combat the simulated threats.

“The scenario was started where we left off during COMPTUEX,” said Operations Specialist Master Chief (SW/AW) Brian Basset, operations department leading chief petty officer. “We continued to focus on our role in a joint environment while conducting sea combat operations.”

The constant flux of drills kept Sailors directly involved on alert and busy throughout the six- day exercise.

“JTFEX was packed with action, we were constantly moving,” said Theriot. “Problems operated around the clock, which was more realistic than the previous exercise.”

JTFEX was the final test JCSCSG had to demonstrate they can act and react as a cohesive fighting unit.

“We are ready for anything, but we need to continue to do better at everything we do,” said Stennis’ Executive Officer Capt. Michael Wettlaufer. “Continuous training is required to maintain readiness throughout deployment in order to be ready to do the nation’s bidding.”

With JTFEX complete, JCSCSG is ready for the upcoming deployment to the Western Pacific and Central Command areas of operation to conduct maritime security operations.

“JCS Strike Group Sailors have performed exceedingly well during JTFEX. I am extremely proud of everyone’s efforts as we faced a complex battle problem; without a doubt the most challenging scenario presented to any Carrier Strike Group,” said Commander, John C. Stennis Strike Group Rear Adm. Craig Faller. “These events put us through our paces in a short period of time. In the end we proved that we are combat ready, prepared to take the fight to the enemy, and assist those in need across the globe. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the focused efforts of all hands and solid deckplate leadership.”