Components of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) started a Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Virginia, Nov. 3.
Nearly 4,000 Sailors and Marines are embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) for the six-week exercise that is the final stage of a comprehensive training cycle aimed at building cohesion between the ARG’s Blue-Green team and certifying them for deployment.
“We operate in a global environment that requires us to be a flexible, maritime force ready to meet any challenge. This exercise provides the building blocks to prepare us for delivering military options and humanitarian support quickly and proficiently anywhere in the world,” said Capt. Jack Killman, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4’s commodore and Iwo Jima ARG commander.
Combined COMPTUEX marks the culmination of training for ARG Sailors to operate as a team and integrate with Marines from the 26th MEU. Drills will hone Sailors’ skills in air defense, weapons handling, seamanship and boarding operations. Also, landing craft and flight operations training will occur in support of the MEU conducting ship-to-shore movements and inland operations.
“The drills we have planned will get us closer to our goal of being a versatile force that can meet any demand asked of us,” said Killman as the Iwo Jima ARG is slated to make its next deployment early next year.
The dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) is scheduled to join the Iwo Jima ARG for Combined COMPTUEX following routine maintenance at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia. The ship returned home, Oct. 29, after supporting hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for two months.
The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th MEU and is comprised of Iwo Jima, New York, Oak Hill, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2 and the embarked staff of PHIBRON 4.