PHILLIPINE SEA – The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG), with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, concluded the joint U.S. military exercise Valiant Shield 2016, Sept 23.
Over the duration of the exercise, the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in a series of training events that tested the strike group’s ability to conduct its primary mission of amphibious warfare while also responding to air, surface, and subsurface threats.
USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) joined the three-ship amphibious force for the exercise, significantly increasing the ESG’s defensive and strike capabilities.
"Valiant Shield challenged our watchstanders’ ability to respond to multiple threats, greatly improving our coordination within the force and with a carrier strike group,” said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, commander, ESG 7, who commands the BHR ESG. "I am proud of the Sailors and Marines of the ESG for getting the most out of this training, and executing each event with professionalism. Bravo Zulu to the Curtis Wilbur crew for seamlessly integrating, and we look forward to more opportunities to train and operate with destroyers.”
The combined assets of the Expeditionary Strike Group demonstrated air defense, naval surface gunfire support, heli-borne and small craft insertion of Marines, visit board search and seizure (VBSS), and a mechanized raid using Marine and Navy amphibious craft. Additionally, amphibious ships of the ESG fired NATO Sea Sparrow and Rolling Air Frame missiles in order to increase proficiency in detecting and engaging missile threats.
The overall effort exemplified coordination on a joint level. One example was U.S. Air Force airlift to deliver the 31st MEU Maritime Raid Force to a destination where the team could communicate operational reports to the rest Marine Ground-Air-Task Force.
“We flew in from Anderson on a C-130, then provided reports for the beach landing team and pilots so they could conduct helo (helicopter) and mech (mechanized vehicle) raids,” said Cpl Jacob Carpenter, assigned to the Maritime Raid Force as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “It was great to see the bigger picture of how we really support each other and effect each others’ operations.”
ESG 7 units include flagship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Green Bay (LPD 20), USS Germantown (LSD 42), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 31st MEU consists of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 31, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 Reinforced.
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