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Air Force prepares for Valiant Shield

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- Airmen from 10 bases will join three Navy carrier strike groups, elements of a Marine Corps aircraft wing and the Coast Guard for one of the largest joint exercises in the Western Pacific June 19-23. 

Called Valiant Shield, approximately 22,000 U.S. military personnel, 30 ships and 280 aircraft will converge upon the seas and skies near Guam for integrated joint training. More than 1,000 Airmen and a mix of more than 50 Air Force fighters, bombers, mobility and support aircraft will participate and air operations will fall under the responsibility of the Gen. George C. Kenney Headquarters at Hickam. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, KHQ commander, will serve as the joint force air component commander for Adm. Gary Roughead, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander and joint task force commander for Valiant Shield. 

Working from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, KHQ’s Pacific Air Operations Center at Hickam and the Navy’s Lincoln, Kitty Hawk and Reagan carrier strike groups; Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines will focus on enhancing joint combat skills and interoperability. 

“Joint interoperability is the key for U.S. forces to successfully respond to future contingencies,” said General Deptula. “Exercises such as Valiant Shield give us an opportunity to ensure joint command, control and communications procedures are seamless, giving our air, sea, land, space and cyberspace warfighters the ability to quickly accomplish the mission with a wide range of interconnected systems and platforms.” 

With the vast distances of the Pacific Ocean, integrated air and seapower is essential for immediate response to any event within the region. Joint training refines U.S. Pacific Command’s ability to present a seamless force to supported and supporting commanders. 

“Valiant Shield provides an opportunity to demonstrate and increase the joint force’s proficiency to operate in air, surface, subsurface and information mediums,” General Deptula said. “It is one of a number of joint and combined exercises conducted in the Pacific to hone our military capability and ensure stability and security throughout the entire Asia-Pacific region.” 

Valiant Shield builds upon and replaces U.S. Pacific Command’s annual Joint Air and Sea Exercises that had been held over the past three years. As the joint force air component commander for the exercise, General Deptula will command all service aviation assets to ensure unity of effort from a joint perspective. 

“As the military gets leaner, determining who will be selected as the functional air component commander will depend more on which service component has optimal command and control capabilities rather than the number of forces assigned,” General Deptula said. “KHQ is ready to oversee this responsibility whenever called upon and our Airmen look forward to working with our sister services and regional partners in projecting peace, power and presence throughout the Pacific for many years to come.”