The Sailors, ships, squadrons and staffs of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) successfully completed composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), April 2, 2023. COMPTUEX, orchestrated by the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 4, is a certification exercise conducted during the integrated phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. The GRFCSG includes the staffs of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2. Participating units include Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS McFaul (DDG 74) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116). CVW-8 squadrons include the “Black Lions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, the “Tomcatters” of VFA-31, the “Ragin’ Bulls” of VFA-37 and the “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142; the “Bear Aces” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 124; the “Rawhides” of Fleet Logistics Squadron VRC-40; the “Spartans” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70; and the “Tridents” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9.
“COMPTUEX validated the strike group’s NATO interoperability, assuring our Allies and partners that the FORD Carrier Strike Group is ready to operate under either US or NATO command structure as the situation requires. Ford completing COMPTUEX leads the way for a global deployment and continued integration with NATO. The Alliance is stronger than ever, and any opportunity for our forces to train and exercise together under a single command structure increases our ability to effectively defend the Alliance as a single unified force,” said Vice Adm. Daniel Dwyer, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet and Joint Force Command Norfolk.
“Throughout COMPTUEX, the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group team demonstrated a learning mindset and focused on continuous improvement. I am confident that this strike group is adaptable, capable and lethal. My staff coaches, mentors, trains and assesses across every mission area and we leveraged the capabilities of the live, virtual, constructive infrastructure to put the CSG-12 team into an intense and realistic month-long scenario. This was the first COMPTUEX assessment with a Ford-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier and this impressive group set the bar high for future ships of the class,” said Rear Adm. Jeffrey “Caesar” Czerewko, commander, CSG-4.
COMPTUEX is designed to fully integrate the GRFCSG, under the command of CSG12, as a cohesive, multi-mission fighting force and test the strike group’s ability to carry out sustained combat operations from the sea. COMPTUEX lasts several weeks, during which units are tested on their proficiency and readiness through scenario-based, live
training, that increases in complexity and intensity. The exercise allowed the ships, aircraft, and staffs to work together in response to specific scenarios across all warfare areas, and to refine their ability to communicate and fight alongside one another in a realistic training environment that included academic, synthetic and live training events. The strike group also conducted the sixth iteration of NATO training in COMPTUEX (formerly referred to as the NATO vignette), in a scenario developed by CSG-4 and Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Center of Excellence (CJOS-COE). The GRFCSG team rehearsed a transfer of authority (TOA) of command and control between a notional higher headquarters, led by CSG-4, and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), NATO’s rapidly deployable joint headquarters in Portugal. NATO operations in COMPTUEX also support the development of interoperability requirements for future force generation and improve allied maritime command and control linkages that are vital in all phases of warfare.
Gerald R. Ford provides the national command authority flexible, tailorable warfighting capability as the flagship of a carrier strike group that maintains maritime stability and security to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier. As the first-in-class ship of Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 78 represents a generational leap in the U.S. Navy’s capacity to project power on a global scale. Ford-class aircraft carriers introduce 23 new technologies, including Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, Advanced Arresting Gear and Advanced Weapons Elevators. The new systems incorporated onto Ford-class ships are designed to generate a higher sortie rate with a 20 percent smaller crew than a Nimitz-class carrier, paving the way forward for naval aviation. CSG-4 is a team that consists of experienced Sailors, Marines, government civilians and reservists, who mentor, train and assess U.S. 2nd Fleet combat forces to forward deploy in support and defense of national interests. CSG 4’s experts shape the readiness of U.S. 2nd Fleet Carrier Strike Groups (CSG), Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESG), Amphibious Readiness Groups (ARG) and independent deploying ships through live, at sea and synthetic training, as well as academic instruction.