US exercise Valiant Shield concludes

The 2016 iteration of the U.S.-only exercise Valiant Shield concluded on the U.S. island territory Guam, September 23.

18,000 personnel and more than 180 aircraft from the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and nine surface ships came together on Guam and around the Marianas Island Range Complex for the biennial field training exercise.

The drill included a carrier strike group, an expeditionary strike group, a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and Air Force aggressor and bomber squadrons.

With a focus on integrated joint training among U.S. forces that increases participants’ ability to plan, communicate and conduct complex maritime operations, this was the sixth exercise in the Valiant Shield series that began in 2006.

One of the many sea-based Valiant Shield scenarios was a live-fire sink exercise.

Sailors, Airmen and Marines tested their proficiency in tactics, targeting and live firing against a surface target at sea when they sank the decommissioned USS Rentz (FFG 46) in waters 30,000 feet deep, 220 nautical miles northeast of Guam.

“This exercise provided an important opportunity for realistic at-sea training with live ordnance, in a blue-water environment,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Brian S. Hurley, the U.S. Pacific Fleet Valiant Shield exercise lead. “This event refined our ability to work together seamlessly as a joint force to achieve a very specific training objective.”

Environmental stewardship was a top priority throughout all operations and scenarios of Valiant Shield.

The U.S. Navy environmental coordinators cancelled a Navy and Marine Corps beach landing scheduled for Sept. 19 on the island of Tinian. The Sailors and Marines were to land at Chulu Beach on the northwest side of Tinian, less than one kilometer (0.62 miles) from North Field, but cancelled the landing due to the discovery of an endangered turtle species nesting.

Also on Sept. 13, the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps teamed up in the Northern Marianas region to unleash a new capability, the Quickstrike-J and the Quickstrike-ER.

During the demonstration, B-1B bombers from the 337th Operational Test Squadron and F/A-18 aircraft from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing integrated Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb guidance with existing Quickstrike capabilities by placing 12 inert Quickstrike-J precision maritime mines and four inert Quickstrike-ER standoff, precision maritime mines in a drop zone west of the Farallon de Medinilla bombing range.

Additionally, both the Navy and Marine Corps conducted a mechanized raid on Naval Base Guam Reserve Craft Beach. It was the first amphibious assault during a Valiant Shield exercise.