8 PEARL HARBOR — A 2019 Cornerstone Christian Academy graduate and Fayetteville native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific.
Airman Destiny Lanford is an undesignated sailor aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier operating out of San Diego.
Undesignated sailors are able to join a ship’s crew and work in many areas, learning the jobs and experiencing more than one position. At the end of a designated time, the sailor chooses which job fits them best for the rest of their naval career.

Aircraft carriers provide unique capabilities and survivability. They are a powerful exhibition of the American Navy's legacy of innovation, technological evolution and maritime dominance, according to Navy officials.
Since USS Langley's commissioning 100 years ago, the nation's aircraft carriers, such as USS Abraham Lincoln, and embarked carrier air wings have projected power, sustained sea control, bolstered deterrence, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and maintained enduring commitments worldwide.

“The aircraft carrier is our U.S. Navy's centerpiece, our flagship, and a constant reminder to the rest of the world of our enduring maritime presence and influence,” said Rear Adm. James P. Downey, USN, Program Executive Officer Aircraft Carriers. “These ships touch every part of our Navy's mission to project power, ensure sea control and deter our adversaries.”

Today, Lanford uses skills and values similar to those learned in Fayetteville.

“I believe it's important to always look out for others,” said Lanford. “My brothers always looked out for me, now it's my turn.”

As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

The theme of RIMPAC 2022 is Capable, Adaptive, Partners. The participating nations and forces exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces.
These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

“At RIMPAC I'm looking forward to getting better at the work I do,” said Lanford.

Serving in the Navy means Lanford is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy is on the water so we can go everywhere we need to,” said Lanford. “Defense is important as well as humanitarian aid. We can bring that everywhere.”

With more than 90% of all trade traveling by sea, and 95% of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities and capacity.

“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”

Hosted by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2022 is led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, who serves as Combined Task Force commander. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Robinson serves as deputy commander of the CTF, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata as the vice commander, and Fleet Marine Force is led by U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph Clearfield.

Other key leaders of the multinational force will include Commodore Paul O’Grady of the Royal Australian Navy, who will command the maritime component, and Brig. Gen. Mark Goulden of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who will command the air component.

“I'm very proud and happy I'm on deployment with the ship,” said Lanford. “Being deployed means I’ve arrived at my calling to the Navy. I want to get to work.”

During RIMPAC, a network of capable, adaptive partners train and operate together in order to strengthen their collective forces and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
RIMPAC 2022 contributes to the increased interoperability, resiliency and agility needed by the Joint and Combined Force to deter and defeat aggression by major powers across all domains and levels of conflict.

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Lanford and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy means I'm on the front lines protecting my family and all the citizens in America,” added Lanford.
Additional information about RIMPAC is available at http://www.cpf.navy.mil

(Above photo: Airman Destiny Lanford, a 2019 graduate of Cornerstone Christian Academy, is serving aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln as part of an international maritime exercise known as RIMPAC. Photo by Ethan Carter, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class, Navy Office of Community Outreach)

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