Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group completes Fleet Synthetic Training
by MC2 Brent Pyfrom and Commander, U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Multiple Navy commands participated in a Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint Exercise (FST-J), March 21.
Carrier Strike Group 1 (CSG-1), USS Carl Vinson (CVN70), Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17), and Destroyer Squadron 1 (DESRON-1) completed the exercise along with Army and Air Force elements, coalition forces, and different Navy commands.
FST-J is designed to train carrier strike groups to integrate with other units in other service branches and is completed while ships are in port. The ship and commands connect to a simulation gaming network that is led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet (C3F) and run by Tactical Training Group Pacific (TTGP) based out of Point Loma, Calif.
"We're able to push a war-game scenario out to all the ships which allows the ship's crew, the watch standers and the staff to actually operate from their ship using their equipment and their systems to participate in this synthetic war-like scenario," said Cmdr. Sean Rando, Strike Group Training coordinator for TTGP.
The FST-J exercise is a full-scale exercise involving 30 commands with notional geography and enemy forces.
"The difference between synthetic and live training is asset availability," said Rando. "We can provide a more robust training synthetically. We can inject as many simulated ships and islands as we want versus live training where we're a bit limited."
Strike group training progresses in phases that increase in complexity. Initially, each individual unit trains on their own, learning how to get underway, sail and operate their systems. Next, the strike group integrates and begins operating together. This all leads to training and working with other commands and branches of service outside of the carrier strike group.
"Nothing beats live training, but from a cost point of view, you get a tremendous bang for your buck out of being able to do this in a synthetic environment," said Chris Stevenson, game coordinator for TTGP. "We can also provide them with a unique geographic location."
Cmdr. Chad Kennedy, the Combat Direction Center officer aboard Vinson, says the training helps the battle rhythms of the warfare commanders, sharpening areas that haven't been tested recently.
"We normally look forward a few hours to plan out operations, but in a war scenario the enemy's actions obviously have an impact," said Kennedy. "As you execute different scenarios you have to adjust your plans, working through all the processes."
Joint participant U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Lee Wadzeck expressed his appreciation for the training opportunity.
"It's absolutely critical that we speak the same language with one another -- that we build those working relationships," said Wadzeck, who works with joint interface control.
The three-week long exercise will be replicated and graded during upcoming live training, Composite Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) when the ships are at sea.
U.S. Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.