By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stevie Tate, USS Arlington (LPD 24) Public Affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- Sailors from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) and Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), Aug. 7, while operating as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSGARG).
COMPTUEX is designed to prepare and assess Arlington and the other ships in the KSGARG individually and as a unit, prior to deployment.
"The goal of this exercise is to demonstrate that the Kearsarge ARG can accomplish the full range of missions we may be tasked with during our deployment, and I would say we met that goal," said Capt. Sean Bailey, commanding officer of Arlington. "We demonstrated that we could operate as an integrated ARG/MEU team under very challenging conditions and in a difficult environment while accomplishing our mission."
During the exercise, Arlington ran through a series of drills that tested the crew's ability to respond to different scenarios, such as maritime patrol, non-combatant evacuation operations, and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations.
Completion of COMPTUEX marks the completion of the integrated phase of the ship's training cycle, as well as completion of the certifications that make Arlington deployment ready.
"Completing this exercise makes me feel part of something important and relevant that matters to our country in a huge way," said Lt. Cmdr. Emily Bassett, executive officer of Arlington. "Up until this point, we have been tested on our ability to perform in individual warfare areas, and we've done so spectacularly. What we can appreciate now that we could not appreciate during the basic phase is how important all of those warfare areas are when they are integrated into the Navy and Marine Corps team."
The three-week exercise also helped to develop cooperation between the different units in the KSGARG by allowing it to practice responding together to various plausible scenarios.
"Many of the scenarios we were faced with during COMPTUEX are similar to the operations currently being conducted throughout the world," said Bailey. "The high operational tempo was something that we may see at times during deployment, and it was great training for everyone aboard Arlington."
Key components of COMPTUEX are communication and cooperation, not only between the ships, but also between the Sailors and Marines aboard.
"One of the very unique things you will find in the Department of Defense is the Navy/Marine Corps team," said Lt. Col. Daniel Coleman, commander of Arlington's Marine Corps forces. "You look outside and see Marine Corps aircraft landing on the Navy's flight deck and that relationship allows us to do great things for our nation. This training is great for both Marines and Sailors, and the harder we work here, the more prepared we are going to be when we face a real life situation when we deploy."
The Navy captain echoed the sentiments of his fellow officers, and also stressed how critical the ARG and MEU are to each others' success.
"We are designed to operate as one team," said Bailey. "The MEU needs the support of the ARG, and the ARG has only limited missions that we can perform without the MEU. So, it really is about being an integrated team. We really came together both internally and with the rest of the Kearsarge ARG and 26 MEU. It has been a great start to what I believe will be an exceptional maiden deployment for Arlington."
KSGARG is composed of Amphibious Squadron 4 staff, the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Arlington (LPD 24), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), and the 26th MEU.