Atlantic Ocean, USNORTHCOM, At Sea --
U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary (26 MEU) successfully integrated with the Sailors from Amphibious Squadron 8 (PHIBRON 8) during PHIBRON-MEU Integration Training (PMINT). The 26 MEU embarked aboard the warships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BAT ARG) including the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5 – “Big 5”), the amphibious transport ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19 – “Ghost Gator”), and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) for training within the littorals of eastern Virginia and North Carolina from 23 Jan. to 5 Feb. 2023.
PMINT is the first of several at-sea advanced training exercises associated with the intensive seven-month pre-deployment training continuum for the BAT ARG / 26 MEU. PMINT is designed to foster unit cohesion, integration, and interdependence between the BAT ARG and the 26 MEU while serving as a venue to refine standing operating procedures (SOPs) associated with maritime and conventional operations within a realistic training scenario.
"This was a fabulous start to our at-sea portion of our pre-deployment training program and a great integrated training event for the 26th MEU and BAT ARG,” said Col. Dennis Sampson, Commanding Officer of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “Our habitual partnership with PHIBRON 8, and more specifically, the “Big 5” Sailors of the Bataan, Mesa Verde, and Carter Hall truly set conditions for this team’s collective success during our initial at-sea training event."
During PMINT, the Marines and Sailors of the 26 MEU successfully accomplished all training objectives to include rapidly embarking the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) via air and surface connectors, conducting carrier qualifications/deck landing qualifications (CQ/DLQ), refining SOPs, and conducting typical MEU amphibious operations such as a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS), Defense of the Amphibious Task Force (DATF) during transits within restricted waterways, air assaults, and limited scale raids.
The PMINT exercise culminated with an opportunity to train to the initial stages of an amphibious assault aimed to seize key maritime terrain coupled with the full debarkation of the MEU MAGTF marking the transition from PMINT to MEUEX II. MEUEX II focused on the transition of the 26th MEU from the sea into a three-day land-based training exercise centered on a fire support control exercise and a motorized infantry company live-fire raid.
“The evolution of a professional Marine Air-Ground Task Force takes time, dedication, and complete focus on a shared vision to reach its full potential as envisioned by the senior leaders of our military. This 26 MEU MAGTF developed exponentially over the last couple of months and functions as a true Air-Ground Task Force. After PMINT and MEUEX II, the Marines and Sailors of the 26 MEU have gained an appreciation of the complexities, uniqueness, and the incredible capabilities of the MAGTF to project expeditionary combat power from the sea with our Naval partners. It is a humbling experience to see United States warships sail through the seas packed to the brim with Marines, Sailors, aircraft, weapons, supplies, and lifesaving capabilities that in a moment’s notice will be the first to respond to the Nation’s needs around the globe. This 26 MEU Task Force is ready for that call.” said Maj. Matthew S. Hanks, Operations Officer, Battalion Landing Team 1/6, 26 MEU.
“It’s easy to talk about amphibious operations, but until you do it you don’t fully appreciate the complexities associated with conducting MAGTF operations from the sea,” reinforced Sampson. “I’m proud of this Team’s performance across the board. We were able to build proficiency in ship-to-shore movements, accomplish initial deck landing qualifications for several pilots and aircrew, achieve C5I capabilities while demonstrating competency in our ability to C2 from the sea, and demonstrated proficiency in the rapid response planning process. More so, PMINT provided us with another opportunity to showcase the relevance and operational capability the ARG/MEU team provides as an inside force during several full mission profile events.”
PMINT training began with a lot of work completed by the 26 MEU communications section to ensure critical command and control systems were functional prior to the safe embarkation of more than 1,600 Marines and Sailors onto the BAT ARG via organic surface connectors and Marine aviation assets. The 26 MEU’s Landing Support Team established a Port Operations Group and Beach Operations Group to oversee more than 50 surface movements utilizing Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) and Landing Craft Utility (LCU) connectors.
Premier features of PMINT included the embarkation of a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) onto the USS Mesa Verde for the first time by an east coast MEU. Embarking the HIMARS aboard the USS Mesa Verde provides the 26 MEU with an expeditionary long-range precision fires capability that can be quickly and efficiently offloaded and re-embarked during expeditionary advanced base operations or littoral operations within a contested environment in support of the Naval Expeditionary Force.
Additionally, in accordance with Force Design 2030 modernization initiatives, PMINT provided the 26 MEU with an opportunity to integrate Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (L-MADIS) in support of DATF, providing the BAT ARG / 26 MEU with the capability to deter and neutralize unmanned aircraft systems. The L-MADIS is the only counter unmanned aircraft system organic to II Marine Expeditionary Force. L-MADIS can be employed expeditiously on ship or on land to protect high value assets. The successful embarkation of these niche capabilities enhances the MEU’s lethality and provides more flexibility for the 26 MEU to exploit the asymmetric advantages the sea provides as maneuver space during a crisis.
“During PMINT, the BAT ARG / 26th MEU showcased high-end Blue-Green information warfare integration” said Commander Chuck Cha, BAT ARG Information Warfare Commander, “This Blue-Green Team demonstrated the ability to implement the appropriate C2 structure to execute integrated non-kinetic fires capabilities across the force combining exquisite electronic warfare capabilities in support of DATF missions. Furthermore, PMINT provided an excellent opportunity to integrate the BAT ARG’s Defensive Cyberspace Operations team with the 26 MEU’s unique cyber capabilities in support of a joint own force monitoring evolution.”
Following the successful completion of PMINT, the warships of the Bataan ARG and the 26th MEU will continue advanced collective training events during the work-up cycle including several land-based MEU Exercises, ARGMEUEX prior to the COMPTUEX designed to evaluate and certify the BAT ARG/26 MEU for its upcoming deployment Sixth Fleet and Fifth Fleet regions.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit serves as one of the Nation’s premier crisis response forces capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations, to include enabling follow-on forces and special operations. Coupled with the BAT ARG, the 26 MEU serves as a premier stand-in force with a breadth of all domain capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals or within the weapons engagement zone of an adversary. For more than 50 years, the 26th MEU has provided Geographic Combatant Commanders with a highly adaptive, potent, rapid response force capable of conducting MEU MAGTF missions– its performance over the years has marked the 26 MEU as “A Certain Force in an Uncertain World.”
For more information contact the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Communication Strategy and Operations Officer, Capt. Angelica White at firstname.lastname@example.org