By Rear Adm. Roy Kelley
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic
Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense James Mattis introduced a new concept called Dynamic Force Employment, which makes our naval force more agile and operationally unpredictable to our long-term strategic adversaries. As we enter a new era of great power competition, this strategy is radically reshaping the standard carrier strike group deployment as we have come to know it.
In April, just months after Dynamic Force Employment was introduced, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group made history by being the first to demonstrate the strategy’s potential for keeping our Navy one step ahead of our adversaries. When the carrier strike group “unexpectedly” returned to Norfolk for a “working port visit” – just three months into their deployment, it truly was a game changer for naval operations.
Between their unannounced return to homeport and operations in the North Atlantic waters, where a U.S. Navy carrier strike group hasn’t operated since the early 1990s, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group performed flawlessly. This underway time also played an integral part in building multinational partnerships. The carrier strike group participated in Trident Juncture, the largest NATO naval exercise since the Cold War, as well as Baltic Exercises in the Adriatic Sea and Exercise Lightning Handshake with our Moroccan partners.
For more than 70 years, aircraft carriers and their embarked aircraft have provided the U.S. Navy with unmatched maritime combat power. USS Harry S. Truman and its crew demonstrated this capability by launching 12,215 sorties, with 210 being combat sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. By the end of the deployment, our aviators logged an impressive 26,077 flight hours.
All in all, the carrier strike group spent 229 days underway, sailed 72,820 nautical miles, conducted four port visits with key allies furthering our international partnerships and safely completed 28 replenishments-at-sea. As commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, I couldn’t be prouder of the Sailors of USS Harry S. Truman and the aviators, aircrewmen and maintainers of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) One for their hard work and dedicated service to our Navy and our Nation.
This deployment is yet another prime example of the pivotal role naval aviation plays in our national defense. Bravo Zulu and job well done.
Lastly, I want to take time to recognize the families of our Sailors for their resilience and support. Our family members are an integral part of the Navy team and a vital contributor to mission success. Throughout the deployment, they remained strong, united and fully embraced their role and responsibilities as members of the team. Our success is your success. Thank you for your love, devotion to your Sailors and dedicated support.