Marine Amphibious Ready Group [MARG] - Introduction
A MARG (Marine Amphibious Ready Group) consists of a flotilla of assault ships, comprising an Amphibious Ready Group [ARG], with Marines onboard. The ARG configuration will vary with each deployment, but the configuration will always provide the ARG commander the ability to launch and recover Marine helicopters and deploy landing craft, including the LCAC, Landing Craft Air Cushioned, the Navy's amphibious hoovercraft. The composition of the Group runs the entire spectrum of amphibious warfare with Amphibious Squadrons, a Naval Beach Group, a Tactical Air Control Group, a number of ships and typically over 10,000 personnel.
Through the mid-1990s the LPH-2 Iwo Jima-class would deploy with one LPD and two LSDs. With the retirement of the less capable LPHs, LHAs and LHDs deploy with one LPD and one LSD. The exception is the LHD-2 Essex, which is permanently forward deployed with LPD 10, LSD 42 and LSD 43 in Japan. These ships are have a long-standing association with the forward-deployed PHIBRON 11 and MEU 31. Otherwise, the composition of the MARG varies from deployment to deployment. This is unavoidable, given that there are five LHA/LHD deployable from each coast, four PHIBRON command elements, and three MEU Marine Corp Teams. The PHIBRONs and MEUs deploy in sequential rotation, as do the ships of the ARG, though the later exhibit rather more variation reflecting maintenance status.
There does not appear to be a standardized expansion for the "MARG" acronym. USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), USS Nashville (LPD-13), and USS Pensacola (LSD-38) departed from homeport at Norfolk, VA on 22 March 1995 and returned to Norfolk Naval Station and Little Creek Amphibious Base on 22 September 1995. In official US Navy news reports, the deployment was designated both Marine Amphibious Ready Group (MARG) 95-2] and Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG) 2-95.
The group is most generally known by the name of the LHA or LHD lead ship. In at a few instances the group has been designated by an acronym derived from this name -- the Essex Amphibious Ready Group is also known as "EARG" -- though this practice does not seem widely followed. The Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, which relieved the Bataan ARG 03 March 2000, was also referred to as the "WASPARG" in some reports. In contrast to Mediterranean deployments, Western Pacific deployments do not appear to generally have unique numerical designators, though a few exceptions, such as Western Pacific 2-97, are noted in news coverage.
In the early 1990s the US Navy Middle East Force was greatly expanded from a few surface combatant ships to include the presence of an Aircraft Carrier Battle Group and a Marine Amphibious Ready Group throughout most of the year. During the late 1990s, on average the US had a standard presence in the Persian Gulf of carrier there three-quarters of a year [one carrier there for nine months], and one Marine Amphibious Ready Group there for six months.
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