By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joseph Ebalo, USS Essex Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines of the Essex Amphibious Readiness Group (ESXARG) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) were joined together during a combining ceremony on board the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), Sept. 26.
The event was held to officially recognize the formation of roughly 5,000 Sailors and Marines that make up the ESXARG with the 15th MEU. The ESXARG is led by Amphibious Squadron Three and is comprised of Essex, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23), Tactical Air Control Squadron Eleven (TACRON 11), and Naval Beach Group One (NBG 1).
"This combination of Marines and Sailors together showcases how we can operate simultaneously and seamlessly as one amphibious force," said Brig. Gen. Joaqin F. Malavet, commander, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade. "But most importantly this is about our people, and the human element of our mission to take care of each other and be proud of this new journey as one whole team."
During the ceremony, top leaders from units belonging to the ESXARG and 15th MEU addressed more than 120 Sailors, Marines and guests about the advantages of working together.
"We truly are the 'Swiss Army Knife" of our nation," said Capt. Clinton Carroll, commander, Amphibious Squadron Three. "As a sea-based force, we offer highly maneuverable, scalable, flexible and responsive options to our leaders in today's dynamic global security environment."
The mission of the ESXARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as support the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.
"The Essex, Anchorage, Rushmore and all of our steel and gear are most impressive," said Col. Vance L. Cryer, commander, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. "Now combine that with unity of one command, several units joined together to focus one mission and work together on the daily task at hand, and that is even more impressive."
Cryer added that the sheer power of our amphibious assault ships, tanks and vehicles is a remarkable site.
The ceremony on board the Essex's flight deck concluded with parading of the colors and a cake cutting. Afterwards the Sailors and Marines had an opportunity to tour all the ships of the ESXARG and meet each other.
"I am proud of what we have formed today and I'm confident we will be able to answer our nations call," said Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Three. "By the looks of all the motivated Sailors and Marines around me, I can honestly say that we are in very good and very capable hands, regardless of the mission."
The ESXARG is scheduled to deploy in 2015. While deployed, the ARG/MEU team serves as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations.