USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Green Bay (LPD 20) transit the Philippine Sea in formation during Valiant Shield 2016. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Andrew Schneider)

PHILIPPINE SEA - Units from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force completed the biennial exercise Valiant Shield 2016 (VS16), Sept. 23.

The 12-day exercise is a biennial, U.S.-only, field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on joint training among U.S. forces to conduct a range of missions on land, sea, in the air and cyberspace.

The VS16 participants included Commander, Task Force 70/Carrier Strike Group 5 including aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Carrier Air Wing 5, guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), guided-missile destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Stethem (DDG 63), USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Momsen, (DDG 92) and other associated units; Commander, Task Force 76/Expeditionary Strike Group 7 including amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and associated Marine-Air-Ground Task Force units.

"Valiant Shield is a vital part of our ability to train in a joint warfighting environment," said Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander, Task Force 70/Carrier Strike Group 5. "During this year's exercise, we tried a variety of different tactics in the air, at sea and on the ground. We used new technologies to our advantage and were able to test our interoperability in difficult situations within all of our platforms."

During the 12-day exercise, the joint forces worked together on different platforms in order to further the ability to communicate and operate together. All assets were tested with range-of-mission areas and successfully exercised finding, fixing, tracking, targeting and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and underwater.

"Valiant Shield challenged our watchstanders' ability to respond to multiple threats, greatly improving our coordination within the force and with a carrier strike group," said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, who commands the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group.

USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) joined the three-ship amphibious force for the exercise, significantly increasing the ESG's defensive and strike capabilities. "I am proud of the Sailors and Marines of the ESG for getting the most out of this training, and executing each event with professionalism," Dalton added. "Bravo Zulu to the Curtis Wilbur crew for seamlessly integrating, and we look forward to more opportunities to train and operate with destroyers."

For the ESG, the overall effort exemplified coordination on a joint level. One example was U.S. Air Force airlift to deliver the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Maritime Raid Force to a destination where the team could communicate operational reports to the Marine Ground-Air-Task Force.

This is the sixth exercise in the Valiant Shield series which began in 2006.

The lessons learned from exercises like VS16 will assist U.S. forces in continuing to develop regional and global power-projection capabilities that provide a full range of options to succeed in defense of its interests, and those of its allies and partners around the world.

The VS series is aimed at developing a "pre-integrated" joint force built from habitual relationships. This force builds interoperable and complementary cross-domain capabilities and benefits from realistic, shared training enhancing the flexibility to develop new tactics, techniques, and procedures as operational conditions dictate. Such forces will provide the deterrence and stabilizing effects of a force-in-being, ready at the outset of a contingency without delays for buildups or extensive mission rehearsal.