OKINAWA, Japan --
Commander, Task Force 76/3 conducted Exercise Katana Strike on Okinawa, Oct. 26, 2022, in which units rehearsed the capability to conduct joint-integrated fires.
Air, ground and sea-based units from U.S. 7th Fleet, Pacific Air Forces, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and the Army demonstrated proficiency in joint-force planning, coordination and execution of dynamic targeting in littoral environments throughout Exercise Katana Strike.
“It was incredible not to just see the integration capabilities of all the units that participated, but see that integration come to fruition through simulated fire events as a joint force,” said Rear Adm. Derek Trinque, commander, Task Force 76/3. “This exercise demonstrates the absolute need for all branches of the Department of Defense to continue to conduct regular and routine joint operations, so we can truly integrate to have the best away team possible.”
CTF 76/3, including Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, executed Exercise Katana Strike from CTF 76/3’s Integrated Littoral Warfare Center (ILWC) onboard Camp Courtney. Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Oakland (LCS 24), assigned to DESRON 7, supported the exercise underway by conducting a simulated strike with targeting information provided by Navy aircraft and target engagement authorized by the ILWC.
“Every day throughout the Navy and Marine Corps, units independently acquire targets themselves and work though appropriate authorities to conduct their own simulated strikes,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Charles Jordan, air officer and lead Exercise Katana Strike planner, CTF 76/3. “Katana Strike showcased our capability to have airborne, land and sea-based units conduct sensing and provide that sensing and targeting data to units so they may conduct strikes originating long distances from the target. For example, USS Oakland conducted a successful simulated strike with targeting information provided by an airborne P-8 maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.”
A P-8 Poseidon aircraft, assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 5, acquired the desired target and communicated the targeting information to Oakland. With that data, the ship then successfully conducted a simulated fire and strike with a long-range, precision Naval Strike Missile, demonstrating the capability LCS provides.
“We were able to maintain a safe distance from the target and successfully receive targeting data from another unit to conduct a strike with our own missiles,” said Lt. Cmdr. Solomon Lu, Oakland’s operation officer. “While a little unsettling to me at first to not even have the desired target on our own sensors, it was incredible to see how all the units and systems were able to interoperate to conduct the strike.”
Destroyer Squadron 7 Sailors integrated with CTF 76/3 Marines and Sailors in the ILWC to conduct command and control during simulated constructive fires missions, according to Jordan.
“Simulating targeting cycles between expeditionary advanced bases, joint aviation, and ships at sea with our centralized Fires and Effects Coordination Center in the ILWC greatly expanded our sensing and targeting capabilities,” said Jordan. “For units to receive targeting information at a greater distance from the enemy enables us to engage targets from over the horizon, mitigating risk to our forces while increasing their lethality.”
Simultaneously, aircraft from I Marine Aircraft Wing, U.S. Air Force 18th Wing, and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) conducted an air defense combat exercise.
“Exercise Katana Strike provides a unique opportunity because it’s not just a joint venture, it's a combined venture where we get to work with the JASDF,” said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Montes, tactical coordinator, VP 5. “That’s important as we work with our host nation to practice how we fight and operate together with the similar systems that we have.”
5th Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), III Marine Information Group, completed long-range communications between joint units in all domains as the overall lead planning organization for the exercise.
“Recently, 5th ANGLICO restructured to all-domain effects teams and as a result, we are now more capable creating effects in all domains and using our communications to bring in greater firepower at division levels and higher,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robin Yi, air officer, 5th ANGLICO. “Exercise Katana Strike brings in different components of joint and Allied forces through various communication forms, in an effort to consolidate data within a single information node for decision making in order to validate kill chains and kill webs.”
Exercise Katana Strike is one exercise within the Noble Fusion 22.2 series of operations and exercises, along with KAMANDAG 6 and exercise Sama Sama-Lumbas 2022.
Noble Fusion 22.2, which began Oct. 1, 2022, is a campaign of learning and experimentation in which CTF 76/3 is experimenting, operating and evaluating naval integration concepts through operations at-sea and ashore.
Task Force 76/3 recently formed as a result of merging the staffs of Navy's Task Force 76, 7th Fleet, and 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force.