Essex ESG Completes Valiant Shield 2010

USS ESSEX, At sea (Sept. 22, 2010) – The Essex Expeditionary Strike Group (ESX ESG) completed its participation in exercise Valiant Shield 2010 (VS 10) Sept. 22, ending the 11-day joint U.S. military operation off the coast of Palau and Guam.

VS 10 was an integrated, joint-training exercise among U.S. military forces, including the George Washington Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and Essex Expeditionary Strike Group (ESX ESG). Both strike groups worked in coordination with a forward-deployed Air Force air expeditionary wing during the exercise.

During VS 10, Marines practiced airborne assault maneuvers and ESG ships took part in anti-submarine and anti-surface combatant exercises.

“A big part of Valiant Shield was the anti-submarine warfare exercises,” said Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, commander, Amphibious Force, Seventh Fleet. “It allowed Essex to work together with cruisers and destroyers assigned to Task Force 70 and that led to integration between the two groups.”

It was the third exercise named Valiant Shield conducted by the United States since 2006 and was designed to enhance real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces’ ability to detect, locate, track and engage units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace.

“Valiant Shield was an excellent opportunity for the Essex and the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group to work along side the George Washington Carrier Strike Group,” said Capt. Troy Hart, commanding officer of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2). “We were exposed to a lot of surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare we normally don’t get to play a part in and it was a good opportunity to work with the escort ships.”

Pilots assigned to the task force were also given the opportunity to sink a decommissioned Navy ship.

“We had a SINKEX of the former USS Acadia and everybody participated,” said Landolt. “Harriers and an MH-60S from Essex, F/A-18 Hornets from USS George Washington and a P-3C Orion were all involved, as well as Air Force aircraft. It was very much a joint exercise with cooperation between different services, and I have to applaud all the Sailors and Marines involved because they all did a great job.”

Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit performed an amphibious beach raid, aerial assault operations, and a visit, board, search and seizure exercise. They also helped the residents of Guam during a community service project.

"This is the first exercise that we have had to coordinate and deconflict amphibious operations from other warfare responsibilities like [anti-submarine warfare,]" said Col. Andrew MacMannis, commanding officer of the 31st MEU. "The integration of the MEU and Navy went extremely well."

The ESX ESG is led by Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt and is composed of Amphibious Squadron 11, USS Essex (LHD 2), the amphibious transport dock USS Denver (LPD 9) and the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). The 31st MEU, consisting of more than 2,000 Marines in ground, command, air and combat support elements, is embarked.

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