Sailors of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marines attached to 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California, June 15.
COMPTUEX is a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 15 and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Expeditionary Operations Training Group (EOTG)-led sea and land-based deployment certification event involving the full embarkation of the MEU.
Essex ARG is commanded by Capt. Gerald Olin of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1, and comprises amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47). Embarked commands include “Blackjacks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, Assault Craft Unit 5, Naval Beach Group 1, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 3, and Tactical Air Control Squadron 11.
13th MEU is commanded by Col. Chandler Nelms and consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (Reinforced) and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211; the Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 3/1 (Reinforced); and the Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 13.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts of our Sailors and our Marines,” said Olin. “They have worked extremely hard as a fully integrated team over the past three months of fully integrated training and have proven their abilities to execute the entire mission set of the ARG/MEU team.”
During COMPTUEX the Essex ARG and 13th MEU applied the lessons learned from ARG-MEU exercise, concluded last month, to improve and prove their readiness to deploy.
The mission set of COMPTUEX is robust and must be rehearsed prior to deploying. The team had to prove their ability to deploy by conducting exercises in providing humanitarian assistance, non-combatant evacuation, assisting the State Department, maritime interdiction operations, anti-piracy operations, close-air support, air assaults, reconnaissance, and amphibious landings with the integrated Marine forces.
“Each and every one of our Marines and Sailors contributed to our success throughout the demanding work-up and our final exercise,” said Nelms. “This team is ready, and we’ve proven our ability to operate in the air, on land, and at sea.”
The distinct ability of amphibious forces to gain access to critical areas anywhere in the world with ground, air and logistics forces enables our team to shape actions across the range of military operations to resolve conflict, conduct humanitarian assistance or combat the enemy in remote, austere environments that would otherwise be inaccessible.
The Essex ARG and 13th MEU team will be the first U.S.-based deployed unit to integrate the fifth generation capabilities of the Marine’s F-35Bs on a long-term combat deployment.