USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC/JCC 20) -- From its headquarters aboard USS Mount Whitney in the Gulf of Aden, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) completed a two-day exercise with maritime forces from Combined Task Force-150 (CTF-150) here Jan. 6.
The two headquarters exercised operational staff procedures aboard USS Mount Whitney and Spanish flagship Navarra. Also, USS Mount Whitney, German frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and German tanker Rhon served as maneuver and support elements throughout the training. Coalition force aircraft participated in exercise activities as well.
The training goal was to improve interoperability between Coalition forces and was highlighted by four distinct scenario-driven activities. Communications were tested across the full spectrum of systems. Also, tactical maneuvering amongst the vessels was conducted. Building upon the success of the communications and maneuver activities, the force transitioned into a maritime intercept exercise followed by a coordinated live-fire attack.
The maritime intercept exercise, known as Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS), saw forces from the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern boarding the Rhon, acting as a rogue merchant ship. CJTF-HOA forces aboard USS Mount Whitney monitored the mission.
Subsequently, the live-fire exercise focused on simultaneously employing the collective assets of the flotilla to attack a target at sea. USS Mount Whitney and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern initially fired individually on the target, and then the ships synchronized fire control processes to engage the target together. In addition to surface fires from the ships, U.S.
Navy helicopters assigned to CJTF-HOA also participated in the exercise, delivering close-in fires.
USS Mount Whitney and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern also exchanged crewmembers during the exercise with four personnel from each vessel participating in the exchange program.
The exercise marks the first in a planned series of exercises and operations between CJTF-HOA and CTF-150 forces.
Spanish Rear Adm. Juan A. Moreno commands CTF-150. He is charged with leading a flotilla of warships from France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and the United States in searching for terrorist operatives and contraband while patrolling the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean areas around the Horn of Africa.
Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler commands CJTF-HOA, whose mission is to detect, disrupt and defeat transnational terrorist groups in the Horn of Africa region. CJTF-HOA is also working closely with coalition partners to establish conditions leading to long-term stability within the region, thus denying the opportunity for reemergence of terrorist networks.
The CJTF headquarters was formed to oversee operations in the Horn of Africa region for U.S. Central Command, in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The headquarters arrived in the region Dec.12 after sailing from Morehead City, N.C. Nov. 14 aboard one of the Navy's most sophisticated command and control ships, USS Mount Whitney, home-ported in Norfolk, Va.