Aircraft take-off as Valiant Shield 2014 begins

by Cpl. Lena Wakayama, III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office
U.S. Marine Corps

ANDERSEN AIR BASE, Guam -- Exercise Valiant Shield 2014 officially kicked off Sept. 15 on Guam and the Marianas Island Range Complex as aircraft from various units across the U.S. Pacific Command took to the skies.

More than 200 aircraft and about 18,000 personnel from the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, and Army make up the participants of the exercise, along with two aircraft carriers, 19 surface ships and four submarines.

“Valiant Shield 2014 focuses on joint training among U.S. forces that provides operational experience, which enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace,” said Rear Adm. Russell Allen, the exercise director for Valiant Shield and the deputy commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet.

The training to take place during the exercise includes defensive counter-air, personnel recovery, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare.

“What we’re trying to do with this exercise is integrate all of our service components together, so that we have the ability, when we go into a combat situation, (to have) sub-surface, surface and air working together as a team,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew Toth, the commander of the 36th Wing. “That’s the whole focus of Valiant Shield.”

The integrated training during Valiant Shield enhances U.S. forces’ joint ability to face current and emerging anti-access, area-denial challenges, according to Allen. The U.S. forces will then have the necessary freedom of action to conduct effective operations to deter and, if necessary, defeat an adversary.

Valiant Shield is a large exercise even from the perspective of one branch, according to Col. Hunter H. Hobson, the commander of the Combined Task Force 79.12 for Valiant Shield and the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The Marine Corps in itself has three fighter attack squadrons flying missions, which is the most the Marine Corps has ever flown for the exercise.

“We are running the gamut of air capabilities for the Marine Corps, from air-to-air to air-to-ground,” said Hobson. “All of the training we’re doing out here benefits us. It increases the capabilities of the MAG overall.”

But due to the vast territory of the Pacific, all of the branches of service must embrace the joint concept, according to Hobson. Valiant Shield helps each branch figure out where they fit in that concept and overcome whatever challenges arise, from combat operations to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

As a trained, integrated force, the U.S. forces are ready to communicate and operate seamlessly together and to respond to a wider array of missions than any singular force could accomplish alone, according to Allen.

“The experience our forces gain from working together helps us to provide the best possible support for our allies, partners, and friends in the region for a wide variety of missions when and where we are needed most,” said Allen. “We are firmly committed to preserving the peace and stability of this region and freedom of access to the global commons, and Valiant Shield 2014 is a great example of this commitment.”

The exercise is scheduled to take place from Sept. 15-23.

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