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Lt. Ray S. Hovijitra of Indianapolis and his assistant, Dentalman Donald Fulcher, of Portland, Ore., perform a dental exam on a USS Kitty Hawk sailor as part of the ship’s mission readiness plan. The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is currently operating as part of Summer Pulse ’04, the simultaneous deployment of seven carrier strike groups to demonstrate the Navy’s ability to provide credible combat power throughout the world. Summer Pulse is the Navy’s first deployment under its new Fleet Readiness Plan.

Lt. Ray S. Hovijitra of Indianapolis and his assistant, Dentalman Donald Fulcher, of Portland, Ore., perform a dental exam on a USS Kitty Hawk sailor as part of the ship’s mission readiness plan. The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is currently operating as part of Summer Pulse ’04, the simultaneous deployment of seven carrier strike groups to demonstrate the Navy’s ability to provide credible combat power throughout the world. Summer Pulse is the Navy’s first deployment under its new Fleet Readiness Plan. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Call it surging, or call it pulsing; it’s really just FDNF-ing. And nobody FDNFs like the USS Kitty Hawk, its sailors say.

“It’s what we do,” said Lt. Brook Dewalt, a Kitty Hawk spokesman.

So Summer Pulse 2004, the Navy’s first test of its new plan to be able to swiftly provide substantial sea-based combat power, isn’t causing many anxiety attacks on the nation’s only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

“We’re already positioned to get where we need to be in a pretty good fashion,” Dewalt said. “This is what the Forward Deployed Naval Forces does. When we get under way, we’re already deployed. We’re always on the leading edge. We are always surge-ready.”

The Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group is one of seven aircraft carrier strike groups surging, or pulsing, this summer, participating in the event that will put more than 50,000 sailors from seven aircraft carrier strike groups in exercises throughout the world’s seas, now through August.

All the other strike groups — the USS George Washington, USS John C. Stennis, USS John F. Kennedy, USS Harry S. Truman, USS Enterprise and USS Ronald Reagan are homeported in the U.S. and previously have been on a more regimented cycle for when the ships are at sea and when they’re in port.

Summer Pulse is a test of the Fleet Response Plan, which updates that old schedule with the idea of providing for a more flexible fleet that can deploy in strength faster than before.

In particular, the plan calls for six carrier strike groups to be ready to deploy within 30 days, and two more to be ready within 90 days. According to Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command and quoted on the command Web site, “It will signal to friends and potential adversaries that substantial sea-based combat power can respond on short notice.”

But the Kitty Hawk, Dewalt noted, surged to support both recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, the carrier served as the platform for special operations. That showed a flexibility then that Summer Pulse is testing more broadly now.

“That was a huge effort. It wasn’t just the Navy. It was all assets of the military,” Dewalt said.

Summer Pulse started last month and included the Rim of the Pacific multinational exercise in waters around Hawaii. In addition, the USS Enterprise, which pulsed from Norfolk, Va., on June 3 to the European waters to engage in NATO exercises, pulled into Portsmouth, England, last week for a port call.

Sometime this summer, the Kitty Hawk will surge out of port and into its Summer Pulse at-sea contribution. “We’ll be summer pulsing, which is FDNF-ing,” Dewalt said. “We’re fully on board.”

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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