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Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

CNAL Squadrons Receive Battle "E" Award

by Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Public Affairs
25 July 2023 Rear Adm. John F. Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL), presented the first of many Battle Efficiency, or Battle “E,” awards to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 11, Airborne Command & Control Squadron (VAW) 126 and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81, July 17 and July 20.  

Battle "E" Presentations
SLIDESHOW | 8 images | Battle "E" Presentations VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (July 20, 2023) – Rear Adm. John F. Meier, center left, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, presents the Battle Efficiency, also known as the Battle “E”, award to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81, July 20. The Battle “E” is awarded to the units that obtained the highest overall readiness level to carry out assigned wartime tasks based on a yearlong evaluation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Botts)
Other Norfolk-based CNAL squadrons who will receive their Battle “E” include HSC-28, HSC-48, and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14. The following Jacksonville-based squadrons will also receive their Battle “E” awards. They include Patrol Squadron (VP) 8, Patrol Squadron Special Projects Unit (VPU) 2 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72. Additionally, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) earned the Battle “E.”
The Battle “E” award recognizes crews with high levels of sustained proficiency and readiness to perform in an operational environment throughout a yearlong evaluation. 
“Earning the Battle ‘E’ is an example of the technical expertise, mission focus, and going above and beyond the call of duty. I’m extremely proud of what these Sailors have accomplished over the past year, and this award is a testament to all of their hard work,” said Meier.

As an example of that testament to technical expertise, HSC-11 supported USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 during their 2022 deployment. While deployed, HSC-11 completed 3,664 flight hours of operations providing plane guard and logistics support, transporting 1,530 passengers within the strike group, and delivered over 8.3 million pounds of cargo.

“I could not be more proud of the Dragonslayer team and all their hard work and sacrifice during an extended deployment with CVW-1 and the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group,” said Cmdr. Jeremiah Farwell, HSC-11 commanding officer. “Every Sailor went above and beyond to take care of each other while simultaneously accomplishing the mission. We have a very special, close knit family here in HSC-11 and I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this incredible team. Double One, Second to none.”

Over the past year, VAW-126 completed a nine-month deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility in support of European Command (EUCOM) and NATO Allies. Their participation in enhanced air policing (eAP) and various multi-nation/partner exercises, to include Neptune Spear and Neptune Shield, played an integral role in reinforcing NATO’s eastern front.  
Cmdr. T. J. Browning, commanding officer of VAW-126, shared his pride surrounding the squadron earning the Battle “E” award.  
“This year’s Battle ‘E’ award signifies the hard work and dedication of our Sailors to accomplish every task and meet every planned goal throughout the past year,” said Browning. “Every Sailor at our command has had a part in earning the Battle ‘E’ and have constantly challenged one another to seek ways to improve. I couldn’t be more proud of them.” 
Browning also emphasized that VAW-126 was the first E-2D squadron to deploy with the aerial refueling capability and the Delta Systems Software Configuration (DSSC) 3.1, which allowed the aircraft to expand its reach, and provide tactical command and control further from the carrier.  

Another Battle “E” recipient, VFA-81, conducted 1,370 sorties, completed 2,536 mishap-free hours with a 96 percent sortie completion rate during a nine-month deployment supporting NATO’s eAP and Vigilance Activity missions, Operation Neptune Strike and Operation Neptune Shield. VFA-81’s enhanced partnerships with counterparts from Romania, France, Sweden and Italy. Additionally, VFA-81 received the fiscal year 2022 Retention Excellence Award.
“The work that our Sailors put in during 2022 was nothing short of phenomenal. Winning the Battle ‘E’ is a great honor and it's a testament to our Sailors’ character, commitment to excellence, and diversity of skills, ideas, and backgrounds,” said Cmdr. Michael Farley, VFA-81 commanding officer. “Even in the face of challenges like an extended deployment, our Sailors’ ability to stay focused on the mission and work together as a high-performing team impresses me every day and we’re excited to carry that tradition of excellence forward.”
The units that receive the Battle “E” are considered the most ready for combat throughout the year and are judged based on their warfighting readiness; mission accomplishments; self-assessments and ability to improve; ability to innovate; and resiliency in executing their missions.  
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