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BHR ESG Wraps Up JTFEX, Ready for Deployment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070326-16
Release Date: 3/26/2007 5:31:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dustin Mapson, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) completed its third and final pre-deployment exercise March 24.

Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) tested the strike group’s ability to operate in an integrated or coalition force environment. This was the graduate-level exercise before BHR ESG is certified ready for deployment, according to Rear Adm. Jerry Beaman, Commander, Strike Force Training Pacific.

“This certification lets the receiving combatant commander know that the ESG is certified by 3rd Fleet and ready for combat operations,” said Beaman.

JTFEX was the culmination of two previously completed exercises and tested every aspect of the strike group’s warfighting capabilities, according to Amphibious Squadron (CPG) 7 Commander Capt. Bradley Martin.

“We tested the capability of the ships and units to establish maritime and air superiority,” said Martin. “We also established that we can operate the ESG in a less than permissive environment and press forward to achieve our objectives ashore.”

Martin explained that a less than permissive environment is one where threats must be overcome in order to reach an objective.

Martin said the strike group’s ability to act as a cohesive unit was tested, and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was able to demonstrate their full mission capabilities.

“There was a full range of missions for the MEU,” said Martin. “They were able to carry out a number of different types of raids and humanitarian assistance operations, and also execute noncombatant evacuation operations.”

The 13th MEU commanding officer, Col. Carl Mundy III, said JTFEX helped fully prepare his Marines for deployment and employed their full range of operational missions.

“We are in tremendous shape and have had the opportunity to practice our mission profiles and work with primary means of deployment and the respective ships they are on,” said Mundy. “It has set us up for deployed amphibious operations quite well.”

Martin, who commands, coordinates, integrates, and executes the deployed operations of all surface ships and units assigned to BHR ESG, said the capability of the ESG brings a tremendous amount of flexibility to support the mission of the combatant commander.

“We have a unique ability to bring ESG power where it needs to be,” said Martin. “Not only have we proven our ability to carry out the defense of our own force, but we can bring the capabilities of the MEU and Navy together in ways that allow the theater commander to flexibly respond to whatever sorts of threats or scenarios that may arise.”

Martin said the specific mission of the upcoming deployment is still unsure, but the ESG is ready for whatever lies ahead.

“We know from experience that there is really no predicting what may happen on deployment. A wide variety of things may happen and we are trained to react to whatever will come up,” said Martin. “We are still seeing the development of the transit plan, but we expect to carry out engagement and other types of operations with our strike group and other forces. We are ready to meet whatever challenges arise.”

Martin said the strike group is now certified and ready to conduct operations in support of the global war on terrorism.

“We are fully integrated to the point where we are able to work together as a force and are able to carry out a range of missions,” said Martin. “JTFEX has been a very challenging exercise by design and was intended to stress our ability to react. The Sailors and Marines of the force have done a great job across the board. It’s been very rewarding to watch all of this come together, sometimes under conditions of great strain. I extend a 'well done' to everyone involved.”

BHR ESG is comprised of CPG-7, BHR, USS Denver (LPD 9), USS Rushmore (LPD 47), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Chosin (CG 65), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and the embarked elements of the 13th MEU.

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