Tactical Development – 20 Years Later – Part I

August 13th, 2006 by xformed

Tomahawk Test Shot

20 years ago, I got involved in an interesting exercise. The roots of the participation began during the cruise I discussed in the series “A Journey Into History.”

After relaxing from the hectic operations of the three CV battle groups, we headed west to the states. Sometime during the transit, tasking arrived for our staff to handle two Operational Test Launches (OTL) for Tomahawk in August. The plan was to exercise operational control of a two ship unit that would shoot two TLAM exercise rounds at the range on Eglin AFB.

Internally, our tasking was to “read everything there is written on Tomahawk.” Back then, must of the documentation was in the initial stages of being put in a tactical format, and only one TACNOTE existed for operational guidance, everything else was technical documentation.

The staff I was assigned two was one of the “Tactical DESRONs,” which complimented the “READRONs.” I ention this for a little history of the surface Navy’s organization at the time. TACDESRONs were flaters in the grand scheme of operational schedulers, middlegrade and upper level officer and enlisted “nomads.” On paper, we had a chain of command through a CRUDES group commander, but they rarely tasked us. We were operationally attached to deploying BG commanders, which may be Carrier Groups or Crusier-Destroyer group types, and our operations became linked to their work ups. Since we didn’t have any individual functions, for the early part of the deployment cycle work ups, while ships and air squadrons individually worked on their training, we were floaters for use for anyhting else that happened. This method of our use never gave us any real down time, as we never needed to go into the yards, a drydock, or any sort of maintenance availability. Net result: We got to meet a lot of ship’s company personnel from all over the East Coast. That’s how we came to get the assignment for the Tomahawk firings. Some of you will have read between the lines on what this meant for OPTEMPO, and if you didn’t, it’s not important.

We got a few days to spend with the families on return from the Med, and then it was in the pubs, on the phones and off to meetings, looking for any piece of information on THawks. We met with the Project Office guys, who told us about the test objectives. We hounded the Surface Warfare Development Group (SWDG) for more info. We re, re-read, and re-re-read the TACNOTE, then sat in meetings with the Commodore, discussing what we had learned. We thought we knew a lot, after the extensive study.

USS IOWA (BB-61) Firing

USS IOWA (BB-61), USS CONOLLY (DD-979) and USS DOYLE (FFG-39) were the three ships assigned to us, and along with that came addtional tasking. COMSECONDFLT staff directed us to also develop and test over-the-horizon targeting (OTHT) tactics for Battleship Battle Groups (BBBG) use. Assigned to us for this purpose was USS WILLIAM V PRATT (DDG-44) to act as a “cooperative mobile target” and one ship, a SPRUANCE Class DD (it may have been the USS PETERSON) headed to Guantanamo Bay for training to cooperate as possible enroute Cuba. We dug further into what ever we could find to figure out how to exploit the range of the Tomahawk Anit-Ship Missile, given the nominal resouces of the proposed BBBG. A LAMPS MK III single plane detachment would embark on DOYLE, and the CONOLLY would have her normal LAMPS MK I SH-2F Sea Sprite. We would have some hours of support from a pair of S-3B Vikings equipped with the very new, cutting edge, inverse synthetic aperature radar (ISAR). The Vikings would come from the Pax River assets, and I think were the only equipped units at the time.

There you have the initial layout: Lots of new toys that would be coming to the fleet, or had just begun to arrive aboard, that had to be leveraged to get the most out of the reason we bought them. Seeing as how the Commodore was a man who believed that intimate knowledge of details would lead you to the big picture, we spnt many, many and the many more hours, trying to gather the info, but then to game out how it might work best in a real seaborne envirnment.

Stay tuned. I’ll have to do this one in parts….

Part II here

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 13th, 2006 at 3:41 pm and is filed under History, Military, Navy, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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