NORFOLK (Dec. 11, 2015) – After more than three decades of service to the nation, Rear Adm. Richard W. Butler bid farewell to the Navy during a change of command and retirement ceremony Dec. 11, at Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 4 in the historic building N-23 on Naval Station Norfolk.
During the event, Rear Adm. Bruce H. Lindsey relieved Butler, who led CSG-4 since July 31, 2014. During his tenure, Butler oversaw more than 11 major certification exercises.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve as commander of Carrier Strike Group 4,” said Butler, who called 2015 “a particularly important year in the evolution of the training we provide to the Atlantic Fleet.”
CSG-4 trains Atlantic Fleet combat forces through a mixture of academic, synthetic and live training evolutions. The command’s signature event is the composite training exercise (COMPTUEX), which evaluates the mission-readiness of CSGs and amphibious ready groups (ARGs) to forward deploy in defense of national interests.
“There are potential adversaries who aspire to restrict the U.S. Navy’s ability to freely operate across all international sea-space. We will not let that happen,” said Butler. “The men and women of CSG-4 are committed to training our fleet to operate in potentially contested environments.”
U.S. Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Philip Davidson, the featured speaker for the event, thanked Butler and his wife, Lana, for their service to the nation. In addition he recognized enhancements made to the COMPTUEX training curriculum under Butler’s tenure.
“Rhett, you’ve taken decisive action, inculcating advanced fighting concepts into the Fleet, and also in making COMPTUEX – the Fleet’s culminating battle problem and certification exercise – significantly more realistic and complex,” said Davidson. You’ve implemented more warfighting changes during the past 18 months than we had in the past 18 years, and I want you to know you did an amazing job. Training our strike groups, our ARGs and our sailors is the most important thing we do. Carrier Strike Group 4, your efforts provide a warfighting edge that has powered our Navy, and your recent and continuing innovation will help maintain that advantage.”
A trained Naval aviator, Butler earned his wings in July 1985. His operational tours include his first fleet assignment at VF-51 where he completed two Western Pacific-Indian Ocean deployments with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 15 onboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and a department head tour with VF-2 where he deployed with CVW-2 onboard USS Constellation (CV 64). He reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 as executive officer, and then later assumed command. During this tour, he completed two deployments with CVW-14 onboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Next, Butler reported to CVW-14 as the deputy commander and later assumed command of the air wing. During this tour, he participated in three deployments onboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Shore tours include assignments with the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), as well as commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo.
“If I had been asked to plan my career from the beginning, it would have not looked much different than this. I had more than the average opportunity to be deployed, flying off aircraft carriers, and, when I wasn’t deployed, I was training others to do so. I’ve been blessed to serve my country as a Naval officer and aviator, and I could not have asked for anything more.” said Butler, a University of Kentucky graduate.
Lindsey, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, takes charge at CSG-4 after commanding CSG-10. He thanked Butler for turning over “such a professional and operational team.”
“To Adm. Davidson, the U.S. Fleet Forces team and the entire Carrier Strike4 team, thank you for this great opportunity to work with you, as we all work together to generate Naval forces for the high-end fight of today and the high-end fight of the future,” said Lindsey.
Reminding the audience that the sea covers about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, about 80 percent of the world’s population lives near the ocean and about 90 percent of all international trade travels by sea, Lindsey stressed the importance for a strong global Naval presence.
“Given these demographics, we need a strong Navy forward-deployed around the world. And in today’s globally interconnected and hyper-connected world, we need a strong Navy to protect America’s interests more than at any time in our nation’s history,” said Lindsey.
Lindsey commanded VS 29 embarked on USS Carl Vinson during the first 72 days of Operation Enduring Freedom; USS Dubuque (LPD 8) during Operation Enduring Freedom deployment to the Persian Gulf, North Arabian Sea and Red Sea; and, Carl Vinson while completing a change of homeport from Norfolk to San Diego, providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the people of Haiti during Operation Unified Response, and executing a deployment to the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. Most recently, as commander of CSG-10, Lindsey led the first CSG implementation of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP), which represents the Navy’s new strategy of generating ready forces for employment.
Formerly known as Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL), CSG-4, along with subordinate commands, Tactical Training Group Atlantic (TTGL) and Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic (EWTGL), prepares every Atlantic-based CSGs, ARG and independent deployer for sustained, forward-deployed, high tempo operations.
For more news from CSG-4, visit www.navy.mil/local/CSG4.
By Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Evans, Public Affairs Officer, Carrier Strike Group 4