Expeditionary Strike Group
The Expeditionary Strike Group - sometimes called an Expeditionary Strike Force - is a revamped amphibious ready group with the ability to disperse strike capabilities across a greater range of the force, increasing the striking power in the amphibious ready group.
ESGs would enable the fleets to cover more parts of the world effectively, providing highly mobile, self-sustaining forces that are able to undertake missions across the entire spectrum of operations. The ESG concept could almost double the number of independent operational groups the Navy can deploy in the future, from 19 to 38.
The ESG concept allows the Navy to field 12 Expeditionary Strike Groups and 12 Carrier Battle Groups, in addition to surface action groups.
This concept is based on an earlier one, introduced in the early 1990s, called a Naval Expeditionary Task Force that was also based on the idea that naval forces could be grouped in varying combinations.
The expeditionary strike group - made up of amphibious ships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines - is a departure from the typical carrier battle group/amphibious ready group structure. An expeditionary strike group could include amphibious ships, a destroyer, cruiser, frigate, attack submarine and a P-3C Orion land-based aircraft. The new mix, which deploys in place of the amphibious ready group, allows Navy and Marine Corps forces to launch Marines and landing craft as warships and submarines strike inland targets with missiles and shells. Currently, each amphibious ready group is made up of an amphibious assault ship, a dock landing ship and an amphibious transport dock. Cruisers and destroyers deploy with carrier battle groups.
Originally, Navy officials indicated that ESGs would not replace ARGs as the Navy does not have enough ships for 12 CSGs and 12 ESGs (13 upon the arrival of LHD-8). However, by early 2004, several reports in the civilian press had indicated that the Navy was looking to have all of the LHA/D's at the center of an ESG. This intention appears to have changed by late April 2004, after an unidentified Navy official outlined a plan to reduce the number of ESGs from 12 to 8 so that additional funds could be made available for other programs. The ESG cut would be gradual, and would first appear in the FY 2006 budget.
During the conflict in Afghanistan the Navy experimented with adding capabilities to the traditional three-ship ARGs, two of which were operating together in the North Arabian Sea region at the height of the conflict. The Navy attached to its ARGs near Afghanistan Aegis-equipped surface warships, a USS Spruance (DD-963)-class destroyer; a submarine for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and the links to the P-3 AIP aircraft.
The first Expeditionary Strike Groups began deploying for the first time in 2003. The first deployments are to be a pilot program and will be studied before any changes occur fleetwide.
An Expeditionary Strike Group centered around the USS Saipan and the 22nd MEU was to be the first ESG to deploy, followed by the Peleliu ESG from the West Coast. Iraqi Freedom altered this timetable resulting the first ESG being centered around the Essex and followed by the Peleliu.
In the June 16, 2003 edition of the Navy Times it was reported that the Saipan would not be the first Atlantic Fleet ESG as the Saipan would be in the yard for maintenance following her role in Iraqi Freedom. Instead, the USS Wasp would deploy.
The Saipan would have deployed in August 2003 with its usual compliment of LPDs and LSDs plus one other vessel of unknown type but will borrow three other ships from the Enterprise Battle Group which is to deploy roughly around the same time. The ships assigned to the Saipan ESG will be LPD 15 Ponce, LSD 44 Gunston Hall, CG 58 Philippine Sea, DDG 66 Gonzalez, FFG 47 Nicholas, and SSN 755 Miami. It will be commanded by a commodore which is generally what would command an Amphibious Ready Group.
With the delay in the Saipan's deployment the USS Peleliu was designated to become the first ship to deploy as the center of an ESG. The Peleliu ESG will be commanded by a rear admiral in an experiment to determine which of the two options works out best. The Peleliu deployed on August 22, 2003 (ahead of its original November 2003 deployment date) with six other vessels that were to have been detached from a carrier, and the Peleliu was to deploy at roughly the same time as a Carrier Battle Group. Originally the Peleliu ESG was to include LPD 8 Dubuque, LSD 42 Germantown, CG 73 Port Royal, DDG 73 Decatur, FFG 33 Jarrett and SSN 754 Topeka. The Topeka was later replaced by the USS Greenville and the Dubuque was replaced by the Ogden.
The Inter-Deployment Training Cycle had been altered in that an ESGEX will be added. It is unclear if this would take place instead of a JTFEX as details are still developing.
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