ATLANTIC OCEAN --
U.S. Marines and Sailors of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BAT ARG) / 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable) (SOC) departed Norfolk, Virginia, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 10, after completing a comprehensive, nine-month training program.
The deployment is part of a regular rotation of forces that foster maritime security and increased theater cooperation by providing a forward naval expeditionary presence with vast, specialized crisis response capabilities to support the geographic combatant commander, numbered fleet commander, and joint special operations task force commander.
“We are ready to complete any mission before us, and we are looking forward to the opportunities we will have to work alongside our allies and partners in the months ahead,” said Capt. Martin Robertson, commander of Amphibious Squadron 8. “Our Sailors and Marines have trained hard and are ready. We are thankful for the support of our families and loved ones during this journey.”
The BAT ARG/26th MEU(SOC)’s pre-deployment training program culminated with its final certification exercise, Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), a series of exercises designed to fully integrate roughly 4,000 Marines and Sailors into one cohesive contingency force while testing the units’ abilities to carry out sustained operations from the sea. During COMPTUEX, the BAT ARG/26th MEU(SOC) operated under NATO command and control to replicate the realities of missions the Navy-Marine Corps team may encounter on deployment.
“Over the course of the last nine months, Marines and Sailors of the 26th MEU(SOC) successfully demonstrated the battle staff competencies coupled with all-domain operational capabilities and high proficiency across the MEU Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) mission essential tasks and warfighting functions, to include MEU/SOF-integration, during an enhanced, rigorous pre-deployment training program within a scenario reflective of the EUCOM, AFRICOM, and CENTCOM regions,” said Col. Dennis “Dolf” Sampson, commanding officer of the 26th MEU(SOC). “Throughout our work-ups, the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th MEU(SOC) executed multiple advanced at-sea training exercises and fully integrated into a cohesive naval expeditionary force capable of supporting theater campaigning requirements while remaining postured, as the Nation’s Immediate Response Force, to rapidly respond to any crisis.”
The Bataan ARG is comprised of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 50), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). Embarked commands include commander, Amphibious Squadron (CPR) 8, Fleet Surgical Team 8, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, Assault Craft Unit 4, Beach Master Unit 2, and the 26th MEU(SOC).
“I could not be any prouder of the Marines, Sailors, and families of the 26th MEU(SOC),” Sampson said. “They set the bar very high during our work-ups as the premiere Tri-GCC Crisis Response Force, showcasing the flexibility and all-domain operational capabilities the ARG/MEU(SOC) provides to a Fleet or Joint Task Force Commander within the littorals and beyond.”
The 26th MEU(SOC) 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 the introduction of follow-on forces and designated special operations, in support of theater requirements of the Geographic Combatant Commander. Coupled with the BAT ARG, the 26th MEU(SOC) serves as a premier stand-in force with a full complement of all-domain capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals or weapons engagement zones of an adversary.