Cassville native participates in world's largest international maritime warfare exercise
Greene: 'Serving in the military has taught me patience'
A 2012 Cassville High School graduate now serving in the U.S. Navy participated in the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), which took place during the month of July off the coast of Hawaii.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Greene is an Information Systems Technician aboard The USS Shoup DDG-86 Destroyer, currently operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
"We, among 25 other nations, compete against each other both on and off land in very unique exercises to include amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal/diving and salvage operations," Greene said. "It takes place once every two years off the coast of Hawaii to provide the opportunity to conduct this unique training for ourselves as well as sustain the cooperative relationships with all the other nations that participate."
The USS Shoup was one of the U.S. vessels elected to participate in the exercise.
"I was looking forward to the opportunity to compete and demonstrate what I have to offer in the exercise itself, as well as enjoying the perks of being in Hawaii for a few weeks," Greene said.
According to Navy officials, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series.
After graduating from Cassville High School in 2012, Greene signed with the U.S. Navy Aug. 22, 2012. He holds an E-5 rank and as information systems technician and lead communications watch officer, he is responsible for all communications on and off the ship. His secondary job includes anti-terrorism reaction force team leader.
Greene's father, Ben Greene, and mother, Tracy Greene, still live in Cassville, along with several aunts, uncles and friends.
Greene said once out at sea, he could be gone anywhere from a day to three months before pulling into port, and while out, his shop works an average of 85 hours per week. Despite the challenges of Navy life, Greene said he felt his upbringing gave him an extra edge.
"I grew up in many different towns both small and big, and I think that gave me a useful advantage in the military as we travel all over the world," he said. "Having the ability to pack up and go on short notice was not something I struggled with, along with meeting new people and being comfortable with all of the different backgrounds and diversity."
He also appreciates the small-town benefits Cassville offered.
"In a small town, you really get to appreciate the fundamentals of relationships because you are typically short on activities to partake in or distract yourself with that you can't avoid actually getting to know someone on a truly personal level," he said. "My favorite memories of Cassville are the people."
He never set out to be a sailor, but life took another turn.
"Truth be told, it was a decision I came to only about six months before I joined," he said. "It was a decision that I am glad I made, and I am thankful for the support from my family to have made it."
Being in the Navy has taught him about interpersonal relationships, Greene said.
"When I'd meet someone before, I'd have a natural tendency to look for the things we have in common, and the things we didn't, but when you're underway [on a ship], you end up spending so much time with people aboard, you formulate these kinds of bonds almost like family with people that you would have never expected," he said.
Living on a ship with others for months at a time is not always easy though, with challenging living conditions and a life full of specialized work, watches and drills.
"Living on the ship can be very stressful," he said. "The good thing about it though is, it has allowed me to learn to be comfortable in fast-paced, high-stress environments requiring attention-to-detail, ability to meet deadlines, overcome adversity and adapt quickly to constantly changing priorities. Above all, serving in the military has taught me patience."
During his time in the Navy, Greene said he appreciates all he has learned and experienced.
"I've been here for a little over three years and have been able to train a lot of people and see their development," he said. "The Navy has taught me to adapt to certain personalities and really accept and appreciate diversity."
The theme of RIMPAC 2016, Navy officials said, is "Capable, Adaptive, Partners." The participating nations and forces will 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 war fighting.
The Department of the Navy's Great Green Fleet year-long initiative also played a major role in RIMPAC. The initiative highlights global operations using energy conservation measures and alternative fuel blends to demonstrate how optimizing energy use increases resiliency and operational readiness. During RIMPAC, almost all participating units will operate using an approved alternate-fuel blend.
During the exercise, 26 nations, 45 surface ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participate. This year's exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People's Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"Shoup sailors are taking part in RIMPAC 2016 and the missions they will be planning and executing are nothing short of awesome," said Cmdr. Jason E. Rogers, commanding officer of USS Shoup. "As captain, USS Shoup and the war fighting functions it is responsible for represent my domain. Fortunately, I am blessed with the talent and warrior spirit of 300-plus sailors who strive to exercise professional mastery and control over each and every one of those domains. Our sailors constantly challenge themselves and each other to know and do more."
For more information about the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, visit http://www.cpf.navy.mil/rimpac/.