From USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Public Affairs
Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4, the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) returned to their respective homeports following the completion of a PHIBRON-MEU Integrated Training (PMINT), July 21.
PMINT, which began on July 8, was the first integrated training between the Iwo Jima ARG, comprised of approximately 1,700 Sailors, and approximately 1,100 Marines with the 26th MEU.
The amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) assisted the Iwo Jima ARG during PMINT to allow for the practice of LSD operations while the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) is completing basic-phase training requirements.
PMINT is a three-phase process used to enhance interoperability between the various units and the first of three major exercises in the process of forming a blue-green team.
"This was a fabulous start for the entire PHIBRON, Iwo Jima ARG and MEU team," said Capt. Kirk A. Weatherly, PHIBRON 4 commodore. "The entire exercise was about learning how to work together and integrate our teams. The ARG-MEU readiness was outstanding. Whether it was integrating the ship and MEU capabilities, conducting flight and well deck operations simultaneously, or the deckplate watchstanders preparing for what they may expect on deployment.
I am proud of each and every Sailor and Marine involved and look forward as we continue to build team relationships," Weatherly added.
During the first phase of PMINT, Sailors and Marines worked together to safely embark the 26th MEU's aircraft, vehicles, material and personnel throughout the three ships.
The second, and longest phase, was integrated training. This phase included a series of air defense exercises, land air assault drills, surface gunnery exercises, communication scenarios, boarding exercises, planning meetings, standard operating procedures and testing of equipment.
The final phase was debarkation, and involved off-loading embarked personnel, aircraft, watercraft and vehicles from the Iwo Jima ARG.
"I'm excited about the level of talent on this blue-green team. We've made significant strides integrating the capabilities of the Marines and Sailors in the ARG and the relationships built will have a positive impact during the rest of the training cycle and upcoming deployment," said Capt. James Midkiff, USS Iwo Jima's (LHD 7) commanding officer.
"Many different skill sets are brought together during PMINT, and as we learn to work together, it becomes a force multiplier, resulting in a highly capable team proficient in multiple warfare areas," he added.
Over the next coming months, PHIBRON 4, the Iwo Jima ARG and the 26th MEU will continue the Navy and Marine integration via a Fleet Synthetic Training - Group Commanders exercise, an ARG/MEU exercise and a Composite Training Unit Exercise in preparation to deploy in early 2018.
The Iwo Jima ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), along with the embarked staff of PHIBRON 4, which includes members of Fleet Surgical Team 8, Tactical Air Squadron 22 and Coast Beach Group 2.