Wargames on the USS JFK

By: Jeremy Pate
By: Jeremy Pate

Planes taking off; plans being made; admirals conferring, all are part of being at war, or in this case, preparing for future wars.

"If we always train to the last war, we're probably behind, so this is training to our capabilities of whatever. Is it exactly like the next future war? Probably not. Does it train us to all the capabilities we may need in the next future war including terrorism? Yes," said Rear Admiral Don Bullard, of the United States Navy.

Here's the scenario being played out on the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy: The United States is helping out a fictitious country, Gemland, which runs from Eglin east to Apalachicola. Florida is hostile to the U.S. and is taking aim at Gemland.

“Big John”, as the Kennedy is known, has to help protect Gemland from Florida's threats. The exercise includes real "enemy" subs, aircraft, ships, live fire and terrorist threats. Real names are used for cities and landmarks.

“A lot of what we do has to do with geography. Using the geography, using the weather, using the water space, using real-world points off that helps you work the geography and provides you, the pilots and the aircrew on the plane something real-world to tie it to instead of just putting a point in the water," said Bullard.

While Florida may be the enemy in the training exercise, in real-life it's one of the keys to Naval success.

"Florida is absolutely the winner here, and our biggest supporter in allowing this training," said Bullard. The type of training being done by the JFK used to be done at Vieques Island in Puerto Rico, but the Navy changed that last year.

The Kennedy is doing wartime training after undergoing hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations over the last year. This training makes sure "Big John" is ready to head-off to war, wherever that may be.


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