Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 completed their annual Fleet Synthetic Training – Joint Exercise (FST-J) 15-72 aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) April 20-24.
FST-J brings together the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines into a computer-based synthetic training environment designed to simulate complex, real-world scenarios and threats. This also allows units that are geographically separated to integrate in a tactically and operationally demanding virtual environment.
This joint-training exercise for the ESG brought together operators from the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 7 and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3D MEB) aboard Bonhomme Richard. This is also the first FST-J in U.S. 7th Fleet that has involved the 3D MEB as a participant which allowed the ESG-MEB team to exercise their linkages in a complex maritime environment.
Another valuable aspect of this exercise is that it brought together all of the task forces in U.S. 7th Fleet in a scenario that required coordinated support to enable the amphibious operations without going to sea. This cross-task force integration is difficult to implement in a real-world exercise because it would require so much complexity and force structure to execute.
Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, led by Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald, commander of Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.
Image: US Navy