Sailors assigned to amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), alongside Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), completed amphibious integration training (AIT) while on routine patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations, March 19.
AIT is designed to integrate all elements of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to test their ability to plan for and execute mission essential tasks.
"It takes the entire team of Sailors and Marines to accomplish our goals," said Capt. Jeffrey Ward, Bonhomme Richard’s commanding officer. "It is the professionalism and expertise of this blue-green team that make exercises like AIT successful and prepares us for success in future missions." AIT is composed of situational training exercises, such as a vertical assault, small-boat raids, and non-combatant evacuation and maritime interception operations. "AIT serves to further develop the proficiency of the Navy-Marine Corps team when it comes to amphibious operations," said Ward. "It focuses on several mission essential tasks, from planning to execution. We assess what the MEU needs and help provide for that need, so they can carry out their mission successfully." Perhaps the busiest place on the ship during AIT is the flight deck. "Our primary means of getting the Marines to where they need to go is by air,” said Cmdr. Jason Stumpf, Bonhomme Richard's air boss. "The exercises strengthen our amphibious force and allow us to build trust between the blue-green team through continuity, capability and a readiness to respond to any crisis or contingency.”
Bonhomme Richard and the 31st MEU are scheduled to continue a routine patrol, operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance warfighting readiness and posture forward as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.
Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG), which also includes amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48).
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For more news from Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf76/.