Liberty native participates in world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise

Taimia Wickliff (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ethan Carter, Navy Office of Community Outreach)

By Yeoman 1st Class April Copeland, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A 2016 Liberty High School graduate and Liberty, Texas, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

Petty Officer 2nd Class Taimia Wickliff is a personnel specialist aboard USS Chafee, currently operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

A Navy personnel specialist is responsible for the pay and travel of the crew and checking people on board the ship. 

Today, Wickliff uses skills and values similar to those learned in Liberty.

“Growing up taught me to embrace change,” said Wickliff. “Even when things aren’t ideal, my parents taught me to be grateful and make the best of a situation,” 

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.

“Seeing all the foreign ships come in and interact with all the different navies has been really cool,” said Wickliff. “It taught me a lot about those other countries.”

Serving in the Navy means Wickliff 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.

“We’re protecting families back home, keeping the seas safe and being focused on the mission moving forward,” said Wickliff.

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent 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 will be led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, who will serve as Combined Task Force (CTF) commander. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Robinson will serve as deputy commander of the CTF, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata as the vice commander, and Fleet Marine Force will be 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 proud I was able to complete a deployment and get both my air warfare and surface warfare pins while working on the ship,” said Wickliff.

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, Wickliff and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“I’m happy I get “out of my bubble” and get to serve across the world,” added Wickliff. “It’s not easy to be away from family, and I feel like people respect that you’re able to do that in the Navy.”

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