USS Mount Whitney trains with SOF during JS10
BALTIC SEA – Special operations forces (SOF) from seven nations worked together to conduct several training exercises aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) Sept. 19.
The training, which focused on building SOF capacity and capabilities of partner nations, is part of exercise Jackal Stone (JS10) 2010.
“As the special operations task group liaison officer (LNO), I want to ensure good communications and effective coordination between the ground forces and the sea component,” said Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Spencer, assigned to Naval Special Warfare Unit Two. “Sometimes the various warfighters and sea combatants don’t always speak the same language.”
Elements from SOF and surface fleet combatants are taking advantage of Mount Whitney’s operational capabilities.
“Mount Whitney provides Lithuanian, Polish and U.S. SOF teams the ability to train to insert onto a large moving vessel via fast-roping or hook-and-climb techniques,” said Spencer.
Fast-roping is a military insertion technique used to deploy troops from a helicopter using braided nylon descension ropes, and is used by operators during visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations. Hook and climb is a less obvious and stealthier VBSS insertion method that uses rigid hull inflatable boats or combat rubber raiding craft to approach a suspicious vessel and climb aboard.
Communications between the ship’s crew and the operating forces is critical in this type of training environment.
“Incorporating the exercise LNOs onto Mount Whitney is critical to the successful planning and execution of this exercise,” said Lt. Tiffany Hill, Mount Whitney’s operations officer. “The LNO’s ability to see and talk to the operators increases the integration between elements that normally do not operate together. This very important and flexible linkage makes each platform or unit more effective.”
JS10 is a multinational military special operations exercise organized by Special Operations Command Europe, designed to improve international military partnerships through joint training with special forces subunits from Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States.
Mount Whitney, the flagship for the U.S. 6th Fleet, is homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
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