Carrier Air Wing
Here to Stay
CVW- 2 commander highlights recent around-the-world deployment
Capt. David Silkey led Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW- 2) during its
recent nine-month deployment as the air arm of the USS Abraham
Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG). As the strike warfare commander
for the CSG, he was responsible for providing airborne power projection from the carrier in support of combatant commanders during the
deployment in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Silkey, whose aviator call sign is “Wolfy,” has accumulated more than
3,900 flight hours in two different F/A- 18 aircraft types and conduct-
ed more than 700 carrier arrested landings. In a telephone interview
from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., where CVW- 2 is based, he discussed the role of a carrier air wing
commander with Managing Editor Richard R. Burgess. Excerpts follow:
Silkey has served in four F/A- 18 strike fighter squadrons, including a
tour as commanding officer of one. Prior to that, he was a CVW land-
ing signal officer, an instructor pilot and a pilot with the Blue Angels,
the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron. He also coordinated train-
ing with regard to tactical jet coordination and control for SEALs in
the Navy Special Warfare Development Group, and served in the
Pentagon as the executive secretary for the secretary of defense.
Did you feel well-prepared for command of a
carrier air wing?
SILKEY: From my personal experience, the Navy did a
phenomenal job of getting me ready for command [of an
F/A- 18 squadron]. In every training session, everybody
always said, “Do what got you here, Wolfy,” and that
seemed to work OK in [a squadron] command. The transition to [CVW] command, no one provides any more
guidance, and so you go in with the mindset of, “Do what
got you here, Wolfy.” And that doesn’t necessary apply,
the reason being is because I’ve got 16 handpicked “rock
stars” [squadron commanding officers (COs) and executive officers (XOs)]. They don’t want to do business the
way that Dave Silkey ran his squadron, nor should they.
When I first started as air wing commander, I probably was a little bit overly directive and didn’t give
them the opportunity to get to their Sunday [objectives
their way]. There are seven different ways to Sunday
and each one of them works, so that was a bit of a
growth industry for me. But once we were able to do
that and let the rock stars do their job the way that
they wanted to, I felt like we were successful.
Air wings across the spectrum of the force are very
standardized. An air wing can “plug and play” on any
carrier in the U.S. Navy with minimum friction because
we are so standardized.
What are the main challenges of leading a carrier air wing today?
SILKEY: One of the challenges we face as we deploy is
aligning higher headquarter guidance down to the very
junior tactical level. Guys come out of the training com-