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CTF-55 Conducts Force Interoperability Training

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Commander, Task Force (CTF) 55 conducted force interoperability training in the Arabian Gulf, Oct. 21-26.

The integrated, multi-phase exercise, led by CTF-55 included U.S. Navy, Army and Coast Guard units, focused on maritime infrastructure protection (MIP) and the tactics used to protect oil terminals in the Arabian Gulf. The exercise also featured joint air interoperability training between U.S. Navy and Army helicopters.

Lt. Cmdr. Alex Mabini, CTF-55's chief staff officer and senior MIP training team member said that if MIP training is not held regularly, valuable corporate knowledge of defense tactics and strategy is in danger of being lost.

"Maintaining MIP knowledge and how to execute it is important because at anytime a country could ask for assistance," said Mabini. "With all the focus on the oil infrastructure in the Gulf, protecting maritime infrastructures throughout the region is a necessity."

USS Decatur (DDG 73), USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) and USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) played major roles during the MIP portion of the exercise with the U.S. Coast Guard ships taking turns defending an oil platform, simulated by Decatur. CTF 55 also led joint air interoperability training with Army and Navy aircraft, including AH-64D Apache and MH-60S Blackhawk helicopters, in defense of Decatur.

The helicopters coordinated their efforts in locating the U.S. Coast Guard ships, which acted as opposing forces, and culminated in simulated attack runs by the Apaches. This portion of the exercise strengthened the command and control and tactics used to defend a seagoing vessel. Finally, maritime communications training was held with Army watercraft in Kuwait.

In the future, CTF-55 hopes to integrate more U.S. military assets into the exercise. The tactics and procedures developed during CTF-55's regular training exercises will not only further the force-wide capability in the region, but worldwide.

CTF 55 is the surface force arm of U.S. 5th Fleet which controls U.S. Navy patrol craft and U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

Article by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bryan N. Blair, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs