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Forward Deployed ARG to Conduct Work-ups

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051018-06
Release Date: 10/18/2005 12:43:00 PM

From Task Force 76 Public Affairs

WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, Okinawa, Japan (NNS) -- Forward Depolyed Amphibious Ready Group (FDARG) arrived in Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 8 to embark the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in preparation for Blue-Green workups and Amphibious Ready Group Exercises (ARGEX).

Blue-Green workups and ARGEX are a biannual combined training exercise designed to re-familiarize and integrate ARG Sailors and MEU Marines in support of theater contingencies, from humanitarian and disaster relief to full combat operations. During the combined training, Sailors and Marines will maximize their ability to work together over a series of exercises that will test their teamwork and ability to respond to a variety of missions.

Participating ships and units include USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Juneau (LPD 10), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), Beach Master Unit (BMU) 1 Detachment Western Pacific, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 1 Detachment Western Pacific, and Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 Detachment Western Pacific as well as the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced).

“Blue-Green workups are an important part of the training cycle for the ARG,” said Capt. Mark E. Donahue, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, the operational commander of the FDARG, based out of Sasebo, Japan. “It helps us achieve interoperability between Marines and Sailors, preparing us to be a complete naval fighting force. Joint operations such as this are necessary to any deployment.”

The joint exercise gives Sailors and Marines a chance to refresh their knowledge about each other’s capabilities, so they can continue to work as one collective unit and demonstrate the power of the Navy/Marine Corps team.

During the exercise, the Blue-Green team will conduct a series of missions using Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV), Utility Landing Craft (LCU), Air Cushion Landing Craft (LCAC) and Marine aircraft off the coast of Okinawa. Sailors and Marines will work side by side and support each other throughout the joint training.

Aircraft participating in the workup are from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), the Air Combat Element (ACE) of the 31st MEU. The Marine aircraft include CH-46E Sea Knights, CH-53D Sea Stallions, AH-1W Cobras, UH-1N Hueys, and AV-8B Harrier IIs.

“Marine aviation is here to support not only the Marine ground forces ashore but also provide for the common defense of the ARG,” said Major William Casler, Essex Air Operations Officer. “This exercise hones the critical and unique skill sets for the ARG and embarked MEU, giving the Blue-Green Team the flexibility it needs for a full range of missions from close air support to humanitarian relief.”

Task Force 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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