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U.S. military plans another large-scale exercise late summer off Guam

The U.S. Navy will send three aircraft carriers to waters off Guam for large-scale exercises later this year, the outgoing U.S. Pacific Fleet commander said.

The Valiant Shield war games will resemble exercises held in June near the U.S. territory. Those brought together some 28 ships, 280 airplanes and 22,000 troops.

Adm. Gary Roughead, announcing the new exercises in an interview Monday with The Associated Press, said the Navy had learned a great deal from last year's large-scale exercises and wanted to hold similar drills again to improve on some of the tactics used.

"It was very important, I think, to take that information and, while everything was still fresh, to say let's go ahead and do things again," Roughead said.

The war games will only involve U.S. troops, but will include forces from different services. The Marine Corps and Air Force participated in last year's drills - the first Valian Shield - which were the largest the United States has had in the Pacific since the Vietnam War.

The war games underscore the Navy boosted presence in the Pacific.

The Navy is moving forward with plans to base a majority of its nuclear-powered attack submarines in the ocean by 2010. It also intends to have six of its 11 aircraft carriers in the Pacific.

Just last month, the Navy announced plans to base the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, California, after it undergoes maintenance in Virginia. The Vinson's move to California would bring to six the number of Pacific-based carriers.

The Navy already has two carriers in San Diego, two in Washington state, and one based in Yokosuka, Japan.

Roughead, who is due to leave Hawaii next month to become the U.S. Fleet Forces commander in Norfolk, Virginia, included last year's Valiant Shield exercises among the highlights of his accomplishments at the Pacific Fleet.

He also cited the fleet's use of its ballistic missile tracking systems to track North Korea's launch of missiles last July and humanitarian work with the USNS Mercy as accomplishments.

But Roughead said the sailors deserved the praise.

"It really had been great being out here and being able to watch the men and women of our Navy go do so many things and to do it really well," Roughead said. "The credit goes to the sailors who are out there making it happen."

At Fleet Forces Command, Roughead will be responsible for planning how the Navy trains and equips its sailors in upcoming years. He will also direct Navy ships in the Atlantic, reporting to the U.S. Northern Command.

U.S. President George W. Bush has nominated the current vice chief of naval operations, Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, to succeed Roughead.

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