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ESG 3 Conducts Integration Exercise

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051118-03
Release Date: 11/18/2005 10:00:00 AM

By Journalist 2nd Class Zack Baddorf, USS Peleliu Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Four ships and about 3,500 Sailors and Marines of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 successfully completed their ESG Integration Exercise (ESGINT) Nov. 18 off the coast of Southern California.

ESGINT is the first of three at-sea training evolutions designed to prepare the strike group for its scheduled six-month Western Pacific deployment in support of the global war on terrorism in the spring. The exercises include evaluations of a series of complex and coordinated training events integrating the different units of ESG 3.

“This is our inauguration as a strike group,” said ESG 3 Deputy Commander, Capt. Chris Noble. “We get the people and material together and start doing what we’re supposed to do.”

This exercise was the first time the units have worked together. Noble, who is embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), the ESG 3 flagship, said the emphasis of the training was on teamwork.

“That team glue - that team spirit - is very, very important,” he said. “Marines and Sailors - although we come from the same democracy and the same great way of life - have each chosen a slightly different warrior profession, and so I see this as a way to bring back together those arrays of skills and tasks and perspectives to apply to this very complex challenge that we have in the littorals.”

One of those challenges included a mock amphibious assault on Camp Pendleton, Calif., with Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) going ashore by utility landing craft (LCU) and air-cushion landing craft (LCAC).

Lt. Col. Frank Topley, the 11th MEU executive officer, said he was “very, very pleased” with the results by his Marines during this “exceptionally valuable” ESGINT.

“We’ve been doing individual and small-unit training up to this point - ground-based, of course - but this is our first at-sea period,” said Topley, one of about 750 Marines aboard Peleliu. He said the MEU could not have performed so well without its “terrific” relationship with the ship.

“We’re required to be very, very cooperative and to be full partners,” said Topley. “The demands that we placed on the ship to execute this training have been tremendous, and Peleliu has been strong through the whole thing.”

Meanwhile, the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) and the frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57) conducted multiple Maritime Inteception Operations (MIO) on board Navy training vessels. MIOs are performed by specially-trained personnel who board and inspect vessels to ensure they are operating in accordance with U.N. resolutions and to prevent transportation of illegal cargo.

The underway provided the first opportunity for the Tactical Flag Command Center (TFCC) aboard Peleliu to integrate with the ships, the MEU, PHIBRON, aircraft detachments and all other units.

Lt. Col. Tim Callahan, N-35, Expeditionary Plans, said this practice allows plans to be “refined and rehearsed in order to be properly executed” by his team.

“We’re leaning how to integrate ships with communications,” said Lt. Chris Pressley, Peleliu’s assistant operations officer. “We will take our lessons learned and apply them to the next exercise.”

ESG Commander Brig. Gen. Carl Jensen said he’s "enormously proud" to be a part of this unit.

"I’ve been very impressed with the professionalism on this ship. We need to keep that up and build on that," Jensen said in an announcement to Peleliu’s Sailors and embarked Marines. "I'm counting on you and this nation is counting on you.”

The ESG concept is centered on the proven flexibility and combat power of a combined amphibious readiness group and MEU. The ESG combines the strike, anti-air, anti-surface and anti-subsurface capabilities of a cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate and an attack submarine. These capabilities give the combatant commander a wider variety of options and enables sustained independent operations in more dynamic environments.

“This is the wave of the future. I think this is the most important thing, the most important refocus of Naval power for the good of the nation since World War II,” said Noble, ”and I’m really proud to be a part of it.”

ESG 3 is comprised of Peleliu, Port Royal, Reuben James, the dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), the guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzales (DDG 66) with the crew of USS Laboon (DDG 58), the amphibious transport dock USS Ogden (LPD 5), the 11th MEU, TACRON 11,and the "Black Jacks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21.

Ogden and Laboon did not participate in the ESGINT. The next exercise is Composite Training Unit Exercise, a more advanced level, followed by Joint Task Force Exercise, which is the final battle problem.

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