Sailors with the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) have been working together for months to support a common goal – interoperability.
The blue/green concept is not new. Navy and Marine assets have been working together for centuries. In a time when new threats can present themselves in a moments notice, the ability of the two separate and unique service branches to integrate together is essential towards completing a unified military mission. Unlike the simplicity of sail, blue/green integration is a complex challenge today.
“All the Sailors and Marines on board the Boxer do a tremendous job working together to get the job done,” said Marine Corps Maj. Elio Marcillo, the air operations officer aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). “It not only helps each individual Sailor and Marine in personal development, giving them a unique opportunity to learn new things, but it helps the Navy and Marine Corps in completing the mission at hand in an expeditious and efficient manner.”
Boxer is actively involved in the task of integrating Sailors and Marines. All crewmembers have to share space and resources while aboard the ship. Boxer has more than 1,000 Sailors attached, and while on deployment will have more than 2,000 Marines embarked from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Sailors and Marines live and work together on a daily basis. From having Marine AV-8B Harriers and MV-22 Ospreys flying next to Navy MH-60 Seahawks, Sailors and Marines working together in the scullery, to having Navy Corpsmen deploy on the ground with Marine infantry units, the ability for everybody to work together is crucial towards getting the job done.
“It’s about learning how to integrate and how to work with the Navy,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Woody Ender, a Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman for the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, attached to the 13th MEU. “It’s figuring out how to get everything done, and how we can help each other. Watching it all come together is great.”
All the Boxer Sailors and 13th MEU Marines are currently working non-stop in preparation for an upcoming deployment. The ship participated in exercise Dawn Blitz 2013, an amphibious assault training exercise; a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), a live-training scenario based exercise; and a certification exercise (CERTEX), another live-training exercise designed to increase preparedness of the joint Navy-Marine Corps team.
“For us it’s the big picture, it’s not about me being in a Recon platoon, or them being a cook or engineer,” said Ender. “We’re all just one small piece of the huge machine, no individual is more important than any other person on this ship.”
The overall integration of both units is key in being prepared for whatever obstacle and hardships that they will encounter while deployed overseas.
Bob Coates, Mission Analyst for the I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) was aboard Boxer for CERTEX and was impressed with what he saw.
“Nothing short of superior as a team, with complete alignment and total integration,” he said. “Clearly one of the best in the amphibious business in all respects.”