USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Air Wing Starts Supporting OEF

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 embarked aboard aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (IKE) flew its first combat sorties of its 2013 deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) March 24.

The missions provide support to NATO forces on the ground in Afghanistan. The types of support range from electronic warfare and close-air support, to airborne command and control and reconnaissance.

“CVW 7 provides aircraft in support of two major operations, one being maritime and the other being overland in Afghanistan,” said Capt. Terry Morris, CVW 7 commander. “We provide air assets to go overland in a variety of missions, such as combat air support, which provides armed over watch in protection of U.S. coalition forces, as well as electronic denial and electronic warfare through the use of our EA-6B Prowlers.”

Now operating in the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet area of responsibility, CVW 7 is the sole sea-based air wing assisting OEF missions, as IKE and Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG 8) relieved the departing USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

“There are close to 60,000 uniformed personnel still in Afghanistan and close to 100,000 U.S. coalition contractors that are here in theater,” said Morris. “We are there to respond on call as needed to support them in the event that they are threatened by hostile activities somewhere on the ground.”

Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, commander, CSG 8, emphasized how important this mission is.

“One of our roles here in the North Arabian Sea is to support our troops on the ground in OEF. Our aviators from CVW 7 that will fly missions that are upward of five to seven hours long, are going to be supporting the troops on the ground that are trying to ensure stability in Afghanistan prior to the United States withdrawal,” said Manazir. “Every Sailor is involved with each one of those sorties. When we put a pilot in an airplane and we launch that airplane off, it is an entire strike group effort to do that.”

Sailors from IKE realize the importance of their everyday jobs to the overall mission.

“The aircraft needed to fly OEF missions must be constantly maintained in order to ensure success,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Brandon Smith, assigned to the Patriots of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140. “My squadron is there to make it happen, and inspecting our aircraft before and after every mission, ensures the ground troops get the support they need.”

CVW 7 is composed of the Bluetails of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, the Patriots of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, the Rampagers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83, the Jolly Rogers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, the Pukin’ Dogs of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143, and the Nightdippers of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 5.

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

Naval Today Staff, March 26, 2013