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Global Strike forces participate in strategic command, control exercise

Senior Airman Daniel Wichers signals a B-52H Stratofortress  Oct. 26, 2014, with a light gun during Global Thunder 15 at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Light guns are used to convey a variety of messages to pilots. Global Thunder is a U.S. Strategic Command annual field training and battle staff exercise designed to exercise all mission areas with primary emphasis on nuclear command, control and communications. This field training and battle staff exercise provides training opportunities for components, task forces, units, and command posts to deter, and if necessary, defeat a military attack against the United States and to employ forces as directed by the president. Wichers is a 5th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephanie Morris)

Senior Airman Daniel Wichers signals a B-52H Stratofortress Oct. 26, 2014, with a light gun during Global Thunder 15 at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Light guns are used to convey a variety of messages to pilots. Global Thunder is a U.S. Strategic Command annual field training and battle staff exercise designed to exercise all mission areas with primary emphasis on nuclear command, control and communications. This field training and battle staff exercise provides training opportunities for components, task forces, units, and command posts to deter, and if necessary, defeat a military attack against the United States and to employ forces as directed by the president. Wichers is a 5th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephanie Morris)

A B-52H Stratofortress lands during Global Thunder 15 on Oct. 26, 2014, at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Global Thunder is a U.S. Strategic Command annual field training and battle staff exercise designed to exercise all mission areas with primary emphasis on nuclear command, control and communications. This exercise provides training opportunities for components, task forces, units, and command posts to deter, and if necessary, defeat a military attack against the United States and to employ forces as directed by the president. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Curt Beach)

A B-52H Stratofortress lands during Global Thunder 15 on Oct. 26, 2014, at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Global Thunder is a U.S. Strategic Command annual field training and battle staff exercise designed to exercise all mission areas with primary emphasis on nuclear command, control and communications. This exercise provides training opportunities for components, task forces, units, and command posts to deter, and if necessary, defeat a military attack against the United States and to employ forces as directed by the president. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Curt Beach)

U.S. Strategic Command, in coordination with other combatant commands, services and appropriate U.S. government agencies Oct. 29 concluded Exercise Global Thunder.

Global Thunder 15 is a command and control exercise designed to train Department of Defense forces and assess joint operational readiness across all of U.S. Strategic Command's mission areas with a specific focus on nuclear readiness.

"We operate in an incredibly challenging and complex global environment that constantly requires us to hone and refine the command's skills so we can effectively and boldly respond to a full spectrum of crises," said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command.

The exercise was conducted in coordination with North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command's Exercise Vigilant Shield 15, and Canadian Joint Operations Command's Exercise Determined Dragon 14, which aim to train participants, including our Canadian forces, in homeland defense processes.

An example of one of the innovative approaches command officials used to leverage the exercise for training effectiveness was the contribution of B-52 Stratofortresses, to a Vigilant Shield 15 training event. The bombers had completed their Global Thunder mission and were on their return leg when they conducted training flights with NORAD fighters out of Goose Bay, Canada.

"It is an interdependent world where we are operating in a dynamic global security environment," Haney said. "It is paramount we practice and enhance relationships now, in peacetime, between the combatant commands and our Allies and partners, so everyone understands what capabilities U.S. Strategic Command brings to the equation."

While the exercise was based on a notional scenario with fictitious adversaries, it realistically allowed service members to exercise as they would fight, according to Mr. Patrick McVay, the command's director of joint training exercises.

"Though I won't get into specific details, the scenario integrated, in just eight days, nearly every conceivable strategic threat to our nation and called upon all the USSTRATCOM capabilities that would be provided to geographic combatant commanders in a real-world crisis: space, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, global strike, and ballistic missile defense capabilities, among them," McVay said.

According to McVay, this virtual tsunami of various threats is created to closely replicate what would most likely happen in a real-world conflict involving strategic command forces and capabilities.

"We'd never conduct our mission in a vacuum," he said. "It is never going to be just nuclear. There will be conflict in space and the cyber arena, and we are going to have to use all our capabilities in concert with other military and government organizations."

Nearly every component, task force, unit, command post and bomb wing associated with USSTRATCOM, from Air Force Global Strike Command to the Joint Space Operations Center, participated in the training event.

"As the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, I have been charged with providing and maintaining a credible and responsive 21st Century strategic deterrent to ultimately provide the president of the United States with flexible options with adequate decision space, and should deterrence fail, to be responsive," Admiral Haney said. "The stellar work accomplished by the thousands of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and dedicated civilians during Global Thunder 15 underscores my confidence in telling the President, 'We are ready 24/7,'" he said.

(Information courtesy of U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs)

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