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ESG 1 Completes COMPTUEX, Ready for JTFEX

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050527-07
Release Date: 5/27/2005 7:29:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class David Perea, Expeditionary Strike Group 1 Public Affairs

ABOARD USS TARAWA (NNS) -- The six ships, one submarine and more than 5,500 Sailors and Marines of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 1, completed their Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) May 26 off the coast of Southern California.

COMPTUEX was the second at-sea training period in a series of three to further enhance the integration of strike group units and combat flexibility in preparation for ESG 1’s scheduled deployment later this summer.

“An exercise like this really helps us gauge all the angles and possible missions ?Big T’ might be faced with," said USS Tarawa’s (LHA 1) (Big T) commanding officer, Capt. John W. Riley. "It also gives our young Sailors an idea about the important role they are going to play in the big picture."

Staged off the San Diego-based ships of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1, the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted a mock beach assault, demonstrating ESG 1’s ability to conduct a sea-based strike independent of any shore infrastructure.

The ability of a self-sustaining fighting force capable of striking without fixed land bases adds further flexibility of operations for combatant commanders, making the MEU, supported by its Air Combat Element and naval gunfire from the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) in the exercise, a valued asset in any theater.

“This exercise deals a lot more on the surface and air side of naval warfare, and it was a lot more chaotic dealing with all the air and surface contacts," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Christopher Jacobson. "It can be stressful at times, but I like it.”

Among the other exercises conducted, the strike group successfully completed a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) - an evacuation of imperiled civilians in a hostile environment. Much of the exercise centered around the conduct of Maritime Security Operations (MSO). ESG 1 practiced several different MSO scenarios, including interdicting pirates, protecting oil terminals, repelling small boat attacks, cutting off the sea lanes of communication for terrorists, and Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations.

“The strike group conducted integrated operations across the spectrum of mission capabilities," said Rear Adm. Michael A. LeFever, commander of ESG 1. "The Sailors and Marines are eager to get this deployment underway.”

LeFever’s strike group is an adaptive, multimission force whose capabilities run the gamut of warfare areas, humanitarian relief and disaster assistance operations.

“During these 16 days, we proved that we are able as a strike group to combine different units to tackle any given mission. We will demonstrate this flexibility and agility once again next month during the Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX),” said LeFever.

The JTFEX is the next phase of training to be completed before the strike group deploys later this summer.

ESG 1 is comprised of the ships of PHIBRON 1, the amphibious assault ship Tarawa, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) and the landing dock ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52). Joining the PHIBRON 1 ships in the strike group are the guided-missile cruiser Chosin, homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61), based in Everett, Wash, and the fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763). USS Decatur (DDG 73) played the role of the guided-missile destroyer for the exercise. The Norfolk, Va.-based guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) is already forward deployed and will join up with ESG 1 later this summer as part of the Navy’s Sea Swap initiative.

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