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The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group launched its first sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Jan. 28 and also assumed duties as Commander, Task Force (CTF) 50.
Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 departed the decks of the strike group's flagship, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) bound for the skies over Afghanistan to support coalition ground forces.
"We are the first strike group to deploy in this historic year," said Capt. Roy J. Kelley, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. "Our mission is to help the troops on the ground in Afghanistan defeat the insurgency and protect the Afghan people."
The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment to the region and will conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) along with providing support to Operations Enduring Freedom.
"Every individual on the ship contributes to this mission, from the aircrew who the fly missions to the culinary specialists who sustain them," said Kelley. "We all contribute to this mission and support our brethren in arms on the ground."
Eisenhower relieved USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in the Gulf of Oman on Jan. 25 as part of a normal rotation of forces and marked the end of the Nimitz Strike Group's deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR).
Eisenhower CSG is made up of Commander, CSG 8; the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower (CVN 69), homeported in Norfolk, Va.; CVW 7; Commander, Destroyer Squadron 28; the guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG 74), homeported in Norfolk; and the Mayport, Fla.-based ships, the guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Carney (DDG 64) and USS Farragut (DDG 99).
The squadrons of CVW-7, led by Capt. Roy Kelley, include the "Jolly Rogers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, the "Pukin' Dogs" of VFA 143, the "Rampagers" of VFA 83, the "Wildcats" of VFA 131, the "Patriots" of Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ 140, the "Bluetails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, and the "Nightdippers" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 5.
Eisenhower is supporting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet AOR. MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.