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ESG 2 Participates in Bilateral Exercise

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040309-13

Release Date: 3/9/2004 11:54:00 AM

From U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

ADRIATIC SEA (NNS) -- U.S. Sailors and Marines assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 are participating in Adriatic PHIBLEX 04-5 off the coast of Albania March 8-12.

The purpose of the exercise is to conduct training in ESG warfare capabilities, including U.S. Navy and Marine Corps joint operations, amphibious operations, fixed- and rotary-wing air support and field combat. PHIBLEX 04-5 also enhances theater strategic cooperation between the United States and Albania by providing an opportunity to conduct various drills in real-world environments.

Expeditionary strike groups are an example of the Navy and Marine Corps commitment to the Secretary of Defense's vision to transform the U.S. armed forces for the 21st century. ESGs could include amphibious ships, a destroyer, cruiser, frigate, attack submarine and a P-3C Orion land-based aircraft. The new mix allows Navy and Marine Corps forces to launch personnel and landing craft as warships and submarines strike inland targets with missiles and shells. These combined capabilities give the combatant commander a wider variety of options and enables independent operations in more dynamic environments.

ESG 2 consists of the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group and the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit, alson known as MEU (Special Operations Capable). Ships include USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Yorktown (CG 48), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), USS McFaul (DDG 74) and USS Connecticut (SSN 22). The group includes more than 6,300 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. It is the first East Coast-based expeditionary strike group to deploy since the Navy introduced the ESG concept in late 2003.

Six of ESG 2's ships also wrapped up simultaneous port visits around the Mediterranean Sea March 8, marking the team's red carpet arrival in the European area of responsibility. From Malta to Albania, and Italy to Croatia, ESG 2 Sailors and Marines experienced the diversity of European hospitality and history over the weekend before joining forces for PHIBLEX 04-5.

Wasp stopped in Valletta, Malta, where the ship played host to a reception that included the U.S. ambassador. Whidbey Island and Leyte Gulf visited Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia, respectively, while Yorktown and McFaul made calls to Taranto and Trieste, Italy. Shreveport tied up for liberty in Durres, Albania, also hosting a reception that included the U.S. ambassador. All Sailors and Marines had a chance to sightsee, shop and enjoy recreational activities, as well as participate in other cultural exchanges with local citizens.

Prior to the port visits, ESG 2 participated in a series of U.S.-only exercises designed to showcase ESG capabilities through execution of multi-mission demonstrations, including maritime interdiction operations, air defense exercises and anti-submarine warfare.

The Wasp ESG, commanded by Capt. Steven C. Joachim, includes all assigned Navy elements. 22d MEU, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., is commanded by Marine Corps Col. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. and includes all assigned Marine elements.

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