Austere Challenge-09 joint planning underway
USS MOUNT WHITNEY, Mediterranean Sea — Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilian maritime professionals embarked aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) for the planning phase of Austere Challenge 2009 (AC-09).
MEDITERRANEAN SEA — An MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 lands aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) for refueling during in-flight gun qualifications, Jan. 31. Mount Whitney is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and is in the Mediterranean Sea supporting Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jason Morris)
4 photos: MEDITERRANEAN SEA — An MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 lands aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) for refueling during in-f
Photo 1 of 4: MEDITERRANEAN SEA — An MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 lands aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) for refueling during in-flight gun qualifications, Jan. 31. Mount Whitney is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and is in the Mediterranean Sea supporting Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jason Morris) Download full-resolution version
MEDITERRANEAN SEA — The amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) is in the Mediterranean Sea, Jan. 31.  Mount Whitney is supporting Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Deparment of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison)
4 photos: MEDITERRANEAN SEA — The amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) is in the Mediterranean Sea, Jan. 31. Mount Whitney is supporting Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed t
Photo 2 of 4: MEDITERRANEAN SEA — The amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) is in the Mediterranean Sea, Jan. 31. Mount Whitney is supporting Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Deparment of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison) Download full-resolution version
MEDITERRANEAN SEA — Service members from various branches of the U.S. military embarked aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20/JCC 20), Jan. 30, to review a tactical pilot chart during the planning phase of Austere Challenge 2009.  AC-09 is a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison)
4 photos: MEDITERRANEAN SEA — Service members from various branches of the U.S. military embarked aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20/JCC 20), Jan. 30, to review a tactical pilot
Photo 3 of 4: MEDITERRANEAN SEA — Service members from various branches of the U.S. military embarked aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20/JCC 20), Jan. 30, to review a tactical pilot chart during the planning phase of Austere Challenge 2009. AC-09 is a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison) Download full-resolution version
GAETA, Italy (Jan. 29, 2009) Marine Corps Capts. Lance Bickley (right), and Karl Schlegel perform martial arts training aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20). The Marines, assigned to Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, are embarked aboard Mount Whitney as part of the multi-service team involved in the planning phase of Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Deparment of Defense photo Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison)
4 photos: GAETA, Italy (Jan. 29, 2009) Marine Corps Capts. Lance Bickley (right), and Karl Schlegel perform martial arts training aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20). The Marines,
Photo 4 of 4: GAETA, Italy (Jan. 29, 2009) Marine Corps Capts. Lance Bickley (right), and Karl Schlegel perform martial arts training aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20). The Marines, assigned to Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, are embarked aboard Mount Whitney as part of the multi-service team involved in the planning phase of Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Deparment of Defense photo Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison) Download full-resolution version
MEDITERRANEAN SEA — An MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 lands aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) for refueling during in-flight gun qualifications, Jan. 31. Mount Whitney is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and is in the Mediterranean Sea supporting Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jason Morris)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA — The amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) is in the Mediterranean Sea, Jan. 31.  Mount Whitney is supporting Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Deparment of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA — Service members from various branches of the U.S. military embarked aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20/JCC 20), Jan. 30, to review a tactical pilot chart during the planning phase of Austere Challenge 2009.  AC-09 is a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison)
GAETA, Italy (Jan. 29, 2009) Marine Corps Capts. Lance Bickley (right), and Karl Schlegel perform martial arts training aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20). The Marines, assigned to Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, are embarked aboard Mount Whitney as part of the multi-service team involved in the planning phase of Austere Challenge 2009, a joint evolution designed to exercise U.S. capability across the full range of military operations in the European theater. (Deparment of Defense photo Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison)

USS MOUNT WHITNEY, Mediterranean Sea — Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilian maritime professionals embarked aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) for the planning phase of Austere Challenge 2009 (AC-09).

"Exercising our ability to function as a joint maritime component command is critical to mission success across the full spectrum of military operations," said Navy Vice Adm. Bruce Clingan, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet. "This training environment helps to sharpen our planning processes, enhance our proficiency at the operational level of war, and ensure we are prepared to respond to any crisis."

There are two phases of AC-09; the current planning phase and a second phase later this spring, where the Joint Forces Maritime Component Command (JFMCC) will position theater assets and command forces through simulated operations.

"I am helping to bring an Army perspective to the joint maritime staff," said Maj. Rocky Lobash, U.S. Army Europe. "I now have a greater appreciation for how a Navy staff approaches the operational picture in a joint environment."

AC-09 leads to an annual certification for the U.S. Navy on command and control capabilities as a Joint Task Force (JTF), JFMCC and Naval Task Force. U.S. European Commander grants the certification based on recommendations made to him by the U.S. Sixth Fleet commander and the assist and assess team from the Naval War College.

"While the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Sixth Fleet team has had some very recent real-world experiences planning and executing a humanitarian assistance mission to Georgia, this underway period not only sets the stage for the AC-09 execution phase in May, but also furthers our accomplishment of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa 2009 operational objectives by exercising our ability of being prepared for any contingency," said Marine Corps Col. Marc Riccio, director of strategic plans and policy.

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