Several Navy and Marine Corps judge advocates took part in the Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in January and February of this year.
The number of judge advocates involved is partly explained by the complexity of the exercise and the new ground being broken. This was the first time that an ARGMEU participated in training under NATO Command and Control (C2). They rehearsed Transfer of Authority (TOA) of C2 between a U.S. Navy numbered fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), as well as using NATO reporting procedures, messaging formats, and chat capabilities. This training was developed by Carrier Strike Group Four (CSG 4) with input from Combined Joint Operations from the Sea - Centre of Excellence (CJOS COE) and prepared the ARGMEU staff to work within the NATO Alliance.
“This recent demonstration of C2 under NATO authority by an ARGMEU is vital to our continued efforts ensuring that the navies of NATO can work as one team, to defend our shared interests and deter potential threats to international maritime order in the North Atlantic,” said Commodore Tom Guy, Royal Navy, deputy director CJOS COE. “This NATO vignette enables us to exercise Allied interoperability and integration with deploying Strike Groups.”
The NATO vignette, designed by CSG 4 with input from CJOS COE, is the period of time a CSG trains to operate under NATO C2. In the past year, two Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) completed the training, which prepared the Harry S. Truman CSG (HSTCSG) to serve under STRIKFORNATO C2 in the Mediterranean during their recent participation in Neptune Strike activity across Europe.
COMPTUEX is the culmination of a series of exercises designed to integrate the ARGMEU as a cohesive, multi-mission fighting force ready to carry out sustained combat operations from the sea. Leading up to COMPTUEX, the Kearsarge ARG and 22nd MEU participated in an amphibious squadron/MEU integration exercise and Amphibious Ready Group Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise, led by CSG 4 and Expeditionary Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
“COMPTUEX was a major milestone and mission accomplishment for the Kearsarge ARGMEU team,” said Capt. David Guluzian, commander of the Kearsarge ARG and Amphibious Squadron Six (CPR-6). “Opportunities to fortify Navy-Marine Corps integration, Coast Guard integration, and NATO command implementation across ARG ships, MEU teams, and embarked staff were prevalent and proved to be successful.”
During COMPTUEX, the Kearsarge ARGMEU units were trained, mentored, and assessed across every core warfare area through a variety of simulated and live events including air warfare, strait transits, boarding operations, amphibious operations, live-fire events, responses to surface, subsurface, and land-based contacts and electronic attacks, and ship-to-shore evolutions. The ARGMEU was tested on its ability to manage the integration of air, land, and sea combat capabilities across the three amphibious ships, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), USS Arlington (LPD 24), and USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), and tested their response to a variety of potential threats and real-world factors such as weather and equipment casualties.
Additionally, the exercise was the first to integrate Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Two (ESG 2), and staff, who embarked on USS Kearsarge in the final phase of the exercise. ESG 2 afloat was joined by Carrier Strike Group Two, which participated as a virtual strike group from shore.
“The Kearsarge ARG and the 22nd MEU successfully completed the final exercise of our pre-deployment training plan, COMPTUEX,” said Marine Corps Col. Paul Merida, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU. “Throughout the exercise, we planned and executed various types of operations in line with our mission essential tasks and our role as the nation’s primary expeditionary crisis response force. The Marines and Sailors of this combined naval force stand ready to go and do as directed.”
Participation of U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Forward (WMEC 911) also marked the first time a cutter participated in an ARGMEU exercise, providing the ARGMEU valuable interoperability experience as naval and USCG forces operate together in forward theaters.
The Kearsarge ARG consists of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington, and dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall. Embarked commands include Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Six, Fleet Surgical Team Two, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Assault Craft Unit Two, Assault Craft Unit Four, Naval Beach Group Two, Beach Master Unit Two, and the 22nd MEU. The 22nd MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team Two/Six (Reinforced); and the Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 26. Also taking part in COMPTUEX was the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Forward.
This article is adapted from the official public affairs release on the exercise by U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F), which is available here.