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Benfold Leads Joint MCM Defense Exercise

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Guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) partnered with Commander, Task Force (CTF) 52 and CTF 55 to conduct five days of mine countermeasures (MCM) operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

Benfold, along with aircraft from the Royal Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy, practiced integration for protection of the vital MCM force.

The exercise partnered Royal Navy H-3 Sea Kings, Army AH-64 Apaches, Air Force F-15 Eagles, Air Force AC-130 Gunships, Air Force E-8 Joint STARS, Navy P-3 Orions, and Navy SH-60 Seahawks with Benfold coordinating the exercise as the MCM Defense Commander.

Patrol ship USS Whirlwind (PC 11) and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Barnof (WPB 1318) served as opposing forces conducting multiple runs on MCM assets. Benfold and the air assets were able to identify and interdict before they could threaten any of the MCM units with increasing complex scenarios over the five days.

"Our success in this exercise is a testament to the spectacular crew of Benfold and the aviators and Sailors that flawlessly fused this diverse force for a common purpose," said Cmdr. Rich Lebron, commanding officer of USS Benfold. "I couldn't ask for a better team. Benfold remains 100-percent ready, 100-percent of the time!"

During the exercise, Benfold also hosted Liaison Officers from the Royal Navy, U.S. Army, and U.S. Air Force to further integrate the force.

Lebron gave particular credit to Chief Operations Specialist David Wilson, Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jocolbia Johnson and Operations Specialist 2nd Class Durnell Calloway, Benfold's Air Intercept Controllers, for expertly controlling the multitude of aircraft participating in the exercise.

Benfold is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Article by Ensign James Martin, USS Benfold Public Affairs