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Expeditionary Warfare Update: Amphibious Force

The U.S. Navy is often referred to as America’s away team because we combat threats around the globe before they affect us at home.  At the very core of Navy’s “away game” is our ability, in partnership with the Marines, to carry out expeditionary warfare– operations mounted from the sea, usually on short notice, consisting of forward deployed, or rapidly deployable, self-sustaining naval forces tailored to achieve a clearly stated objective. The following blog is the final in a three part series on the current status of Expeditionary Warfare programs and capabilities.  

An SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter and MV-22 Ospreys fly above the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) while a landing craft air cushion (LCAC) conducts operations in the water.

The Navy-Marine Corps partnership is the Nation’s Naval Service Warfighting Team.

  • Working with USMC leaders, we are committed to getting the Navy-USMC team back to its roots, including a commitment to more over-the-beach training in workups and exercises (Ex: re-establishment of DAWN BLITZ and BOLD ALLIGATOR).
  • Recent examples of Amphib success include:
    • Improved materiel readiness of Amphib fleet
    • Development of an enhanced VBSS capability for ARG-MEU
    • Support of increased Marine participation in exercises like RIMPAC, including significant experimentation
    • Dawn Blitz 10 (Fall 2010, BONHOMME RICHARD ARG/1MEF – 5,000 Marines/Sailors, 7 ships) and smaller Dawn Blitz 11 (BONHOMME RICHARD ARG/1 MEB – 700 Marines, 2 ships), both in San Diego
    • Bold Alligator – simulated (Bataan ARG, Iwo Jima ARG/2nd MEB – 500 Marines/Sailors, 8 ships) in Norfolk [Bold Alligator 2012]
    • Magellan Star hostage rescue – Using elements of 15th MEU operating off USS DUBUQUE (1500 NM from their command ship USS PELEIU) and operating as part of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) – the international counter piracy task force….rescued 11 hostages and detained 9 pirates off the coast of Somalia – overwhelming force, not a shot fired.
  • Amphibious operations in which selective components work independently – often outside the reach and range of mutual support from other vessels in the ARG/MEU construct. Disaggregated operations are a challenge but a reality. Through disaggregation, the forward deployed ARG/MEU team is successfully meeting regional commander demands across the full range of military operations.
  • Amphibious examples – BATAAN ARG/22nd MEU deployed ahead of schedule to meet continued urgent needs in Libya and the region; they then continued with their scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. USS MESA VERDE (LPD 19) continued to support NATO efforts in the Mediterranean, while BATAAN and USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD 41) operated in the Gulf of Aden.
  • Amphibious ships such as LSDs have been central in conducting recent operations:
  • USS ASHLAND (LSD 48), while operating off the coast of Djibouti, was fired upon and returned fire – disabling a skiff manned by suspected pirates in April 2010. ASHLAND deployed a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) team to capture suspects from the sea.
  • USS HARPERS FERRY (LSD 49) provided humanitarian and disaster relief in the Philippines following a massive landslide in February 2006.

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