September 17, 2018 – USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) participated in the Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsal (TACR) 18 with multiple U.S. Navy and Marine Corps counterpart forces in the Gulf of Aden, Sept. 14.
Led by Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, TACR 18 integrates U.S. Navy and Marine Corps assets, including the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, to practice a range of critical combat-related capabilities, such as securing littoral environments and de-mining critical waterways.
“Our goals for the exercise were to flex Navy and Marine Corps integration afloat, ensuring tactical proficiency, while operating off the coast of Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden, working within a real-time, high stress environment,” said Capt. Peter Mirisola, deputy commodore of U.S. 5th Fleet Task Force (CTF) 55 who embarked Dunham as the sea combat commander for the event.
With more than 4,000 Sailors and Marines participating in the rehearsal, Dunham conducted surface and air surveillance, providing a layered defense and maintaining the overall maritime picture for U.S. forces operating in areas of potential threat.
“Incorporating an Aegis-class destroyer into an established ARG helped facilitate a more robust air defense posture,” said Cmdr. John Hamilton, Dunham’s commanding officer. “TACR is similar to the up-gunned expeditionary strike group concept, which adds multiple sensors to enhance fidelity for decision makers, this was another opportunity to showcase distributed lethality with amphibious forces.”
Hamilton said having the CTF 55 staff element embarked expanded upon the traditional composite-warfare-commander construct and extended the battle space for the amphibious expeditionary exercise.
Effective communication was a critical component to rehearsal’s success.
“A challenge often encountered when working with multiple forces in a large-scale operation is establishing effective communication between the individual units,” said Lt. Jack Curran, Dunham’s operations officer. “Unilateral exercises are important to improving our Navy-Marine Corps interoperability by pressing units to improve upon methods of relaying information as the exercise unfolds.”
The rehearsal demonstrates U.S. forces’ resolve to be capable and ready to rapidly respond to any threat, ensuring the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.
“All units did exceptionally well preparing, getting to the rehearsal areas, and performing these operations,” said Mirisola. “This is the inherent capability of the Navy and Marine Corps team and a mission in which we take great pride.”
U.S. 5th Fleet and coalition assets are participating in numerous simultaneous exercises as part of the greater Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise to ensure maritime stability and security in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through western Indian Ocean and three strategic chock points.