USS America ARG, 15th MEU complete CERTEX

The America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) recently completed their 17-day Certification Exercise (CERTEX), qualifying them for their upcoming Western Pacific deployment, June 16.

The America ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and Marines assigned to the 15th MEU.

As the final integrated-training event for the America ARG and 15th MEU, CERTEX is a comprehensive, complex training evolution that combines the Navy and Marine Corps maritime and sea-to-shore capabilities.

Following successful completion of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON)-MEU Integrated Training (PMINT) in April and Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in May, CERTEX rounds out the required three evolutions necessary to prepare for deployment.

“I’m confident that [America ARG] will sail on deployment next month and do our nation’s bidding and if called upon, you will unleash the full power of your military might, and nothing will stop you,” said Rear Adm. Ross Myers, commander, Carrier Strike Group 15 (CSG 15), as he addressed the crew of the America over the ship’s 1MC, who was on board America with his team to assist with COMPTUEX and CERTEX. “As you finish up CERTEX and prepare for deployment, know that part of CSG 15 is forever with you.”

All three phases of training evolutions allowed the Navy/Marine Corps team the opportunity to completely integrate and seamlessly work together to conduct a variety of sea-based operations.

“What PMINT, COMPTUEX, and CERTEX guaranteed for the ARG and MEU is ensuring we maintained a higher state of readiness each time,” said Capt. Daniel Nowicki, America’s executive officer. “We’ve trained for every possible scenario, ensuring we are more than ready for whatever our nation requires us to do.”

The America ARG and 15th MEU was evaluated on many different scenarios testing their ability to operation in several mission-critical areas, including maritime boarding, combat, flight operations, and civilian evacuation drills.

“Amphibious platforms are unique in that, we work hand-in-hand with our Marine Corps counterparts,” said Nowicki. “We provide capabilities for them, that other platforms cannot. Together, we showed that the 15th MEU can qualify to conduct an array of missions and we can support whatever they require.”

The skill-set that all three training evolutions have equipped the America ARG and 15th MEU with will ensure that all deployed Sailors and Marines are prepared to take on everything deployment may bring.

“Because we’ve been practicing our basics, we’re built our foundation of expertise, and that’s allowed us to deal with short notice tasking in a safe and effective manner,” said Capt. Pete Collins, San Diego commanding officer. “By the time we get [to the 7th and 5th Fleet] we’ll have already seen and practiced scenarios enough to where we are comfortable — that’s what these phases are all about, getting to know the possibilities and how to react.”

Cmdr. Benjamin Miller, Pearl Harbor’s executive officer, agreed with Collins’ assessments.

“I believe across PMINT, COMPTUEX, and CERTEX, we have really grown as an ARG,” said Cmdr. Benjamin Miller, Pearl Harbor executive officer. “CSG 15 and [Expeditionary Operations Training Group] have done a phenomenal job of getting us ready for our deployment. We’ve truly stressed the ships and Marine’s capabilities, both at sea and ashore, and I am confident that we are ready for any contingency.”

More than 1,800 Sailors and 2,600 Marines are assigned to the ARG and 15th MEU in preparation for the ARG’s deployment later this year.

The ARG and accompanying MEU is comprised of a team whose combined skill sets allow them to execute a wide variety of missions, to include, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, amphibious assaults, visit board search and seizure, maritime interdiction operations, noncombatant evacuation operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, and theater security operations.