Essex strike group tests new Navy concept
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — It’s called FORCEnet. It just completed its first big real-time test, involving a lot of ships and personnel from U.S. Navy and Marine bases in Japan.
And it appears to be working, Navy leaders say — a good thing, considering that Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, has called FORCEnet nothing less than “the operational construct and architectural framework for naval warfare in the information age.”
FORCEnet integrates “warriors, sensors, command and control platforms and weapons into a networked, distributed combat force,” stated Clark in an article in last October’s Naval Proceedings magazine. It binds the three concepts of Sea Power 21, his vision for future naval operations, he wrote: Sea Strike, projecting precise and persistent offensive power; Sea Shield, global defensive assurance; and Sea Basing, maintaining operational independence at sea.
FORCEnet, he noted, integrates these concepts “into a fully netted combat force, making them an operational reality.”
Capt. Richard B. Landolt offered a nuts-and-bolts example of how FORCEnet could work. “A Marine in the field can be in a firefight, and need supporting fire,” he said. “The Marine can call for support from a laptop computer, and the battle force commander can then decide the best way to support that Marine out in the field.”
Landolt is operations officer of the recently created Essex Expeditionary Strike Group, Forward Deployed Naval Force. The strike group used FORCEnet the last week of September, while training at Exercise Trident Warrior ’03.
“Trident Warrior is an exercise where we’re bringing together all the new and existing technologies, all the platforms and all the sensors and the people who are trained in all of these,” he explained.
Trident Warrior unfolded at sea near Okinawa, said Lt. j.g. Jeral Dorsey, spokesman for Command, Task Force 76, the 7th Fleet’s amphibious force. Much of the training occurred on Essex strike group ships and ashore in Japan and Hawaii.
As a commander, Landolt skippered Sasebo’s USS Fort McHenry from November 1998 until the end of May 2000. During Trident Warrior ’03, he said, “the staff is able to use the cutting-edge technology to react to realistic scenarios, allowing people to collaborate and allowing people to improvise. In this world, that’s a key.”
Trident Warrior ’03 is the first large-scale event in FORCEnet’s development schedule, the first incremental delivery to the fleet, stated a Navy report released this week.
Some of the Trident Warrior participants and their locations during the training include:
• Essex ESG-FDNF ships, normally operating from Sasebo Naval Base, participated while at sea. The strike group ships involved include the USS Essex, Fort McHenry, Juneau and Guardian, a mine countermeasures ship sporting a crew of less than 100 sailors.• Other units training with FORCEnet at Trident Warrior were Command, U.S. Seventh Fleet, from aboard the USS Blue Ridge in port in Japan.• Command, Task Force 76, participated at sea aboard the Essex.• Command, Task Force 70, trained on the USS Kitty Hawk in port in Japan.• Command, Task Force 72, provided support from shore in Misawa, Japan.• The III Marine Expeditionary Force exercised its role ashore in Okinawa.• The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit was embarked — as it often is — on the Essex, as were personnel from Command, Amphibious Squadron 11.• The guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville and guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, both operating from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, also were involved from positions afloat.
For more information about FORCEnet visit: http://forcenet.navy.mil