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Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic

Navy Reservists Support SURFLANT During Surge Exercise

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Emily Casavant
26 January 2024  NORFOLK, VA - Seventy five U.S. Navy Reserve Sailors reported to Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT) last month as part of a large-scale surge support exercise designed to integrate Reserve personnel aboard surface force warships. 

The first-of-its-kind exercise at SURFLANT highlighted the rapid response capability of the Navy’s reserve component to identify, activate, and assign Sailors to a variety of critical billets across the surface force. The training event directly supported the Force’s North Star objective of 75 mission-capable warships and represents the largest group of Reservists ever requested to support SURFLANT requirements and shipboard tasking.

“The surface force is foundational to our Navy’s combat credibility and ability to achieve maritime dominance,” said Rear Adm. Kimberly Walz, Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Surface Force Atlantic. “Our Navy Reservists further enhance SURFLANT’s warfighting readiness by providing strategic depth at key positions across our warships, while demonstrating their ability to execute the mission in rapid fashion.”

Six amphibious warships assigned to Commander, Naval Surface Readiness Group (CNSG) Middle Atlantic played host to the Reservists during the exercise, including USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), USS San Antonino (LDP-17), USS Arlington (LPD-24), USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) and USS Tortuga (LSD-46).

“This was the first time we’ve done this on this large of a scale,” said Master Chief Jon Lonsdale, Force Master Chief, Naval Surface Force Atlantic. “As we look ahead in terms of personnel and force generation, the successes we’ve seen during this exercise provide a great preview of our ability to deliver flexibility and proficiency when called upon.”

New Surface Groups have rolled out across the surface force in recent months and provide a single accountable commander with a team of readiness and training experts that focus on force generation in support of operational commanders. The command model is designed to spearhead maintenance for ships on the waterfront during their workups, thereby enabling destroyer and amphibious squadrons to focus more on operations and tactics.

During the exercise, the Reserve Sailors worked side-by-side with their active duty counterparts to refine their in-rate skills, work toward qualifications, and contribute as much as they could in support of day-to-day shipboard tasks. Demonstrating the U.S. Navy’s strategic depth, mission capable part-time Sailors were able to quickly pack their seabags, put their lives on hold and contribute to essential warship readiness during key stages of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (ORFP).

"It was amazing to have these Reservists aboard; they were a force multiplier and able to seamlessly integrate into our divisions, not only by standing watch alongside our Sailors, but also by providing valuable training to our crew,” said Capt. Ian Scaliatine, commanding officer, USS Arlington. “The additional flexibility provided by having a Reserve surge capacity ensures that no matter what real-world contingency pops up, our ships will continue to progress through yard availabilities on time, or ahead of schedule."

The Navy Reserve currently has more than 45,000 Selected Reservists on hand and represents approximately 20% of the Navy’s total force. These Sailor-civilian professionals provide the Navy with timely and cost-effective operational capability, ready to surge forward anytime and anywhere.

“My heart is full of pride as I see our Reserve Sailors put their black boots back on and return to shipboard work, following years of supporting “brown boot initiatives,” said Walz. “This exercise, and our ability to refine the processes and procedures associated with it, is a testament to our team’s ability to align billet-specific expertise where it may be needed and demonstrate remarkable mobilization readiness.”

The lessons learned from the current surge support exercise will be used to prepare for future surface force Reserve events and assist SURFLANT’s Operational Planning Team in refining procedures, as well as develop a “playbook” for future evolutions.

Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic mans, trains and equips assigned surface forces and shore activities, ensuring the capable force for conducting prompt and sustained operations in support of the United States national interests. More than 70 ships and 34 shore commands make up the SURFLANT force.  |  |  Navy FOIA  |  DoD Accessibility/Section 508  |  No Fear Act   |  Open Government  |  Plain Writing Act  |  Veterans Crisis Line  |  VA Vet Center  |  FVAP  |  DoD Safe Helpline  |  Navy SAPR  |  NCIS Tips  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us   |  988 Helpline
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