By MC1 Kristin M. Schuster
Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group Public Affairs
The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed their Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) Dec. 9.
Combined COMPTUEX is a scenario driven event used to certify ships for deployment. Carrier Strike Group 4 and Expeditionary Operations Training Group presented a broad spectrum scenario that included providing food, shelter and medical treatment to non-combatant evacuees; resupplying at sea with limited communications, and providing aerial and ship-to-shore support for Marine raids and an amphibious assault.
"I think we really pushed the training envelope with simulations along with events with actual role players," said Capt. Jack Killman, commander, Iwo Jima ARG. "We were integrating those two things to provide a very realistic scenario that we could see on deployment."
"Combined COMPTUEX forced us to showcase every mission capability and assess how well we can plan and perform in each area," said Capt. Todd Vandegrift, commanding officer of New York. "We were forced to test the limits of every Sailor and Marine as we worked through scenarios simulating what we might see as a forward deployed force," said Vandegrift. "Combined COMPTUEX has given us the opportunity to learn and grow as a fully integrated, blue-green team as we work together as an amphibious force."
Woven into the foundation of Combined COMPTUEX is the blue-green integration of Sailors and Marines necessary for an ARG-MEU team to achieve mission success.
"This was exactly what we needed to do before we deploy," said. Marine Col. Farrell Sullivan, commanding officer, 26th MEU. "We did spend time aboard ship in July during PHIBRON/MEU Integration, which is very short. We did some integration, but not enough to prepare ourselves to go forward and be at the beck and call of a combatant commander and to be given a very short-fused mission to execute."
"I've seen flawless integration with all the teams," said Killman. "I can't stress enough how important that team is for a successful Iwo Jima ARG."
"New York and the 26th MEU have performed extremely well, and we have emerged as a fully capable unit, ready to deploy and perform at the tip of the spear in any area of operation," said Vandegrift.
During the 37 days underway, Marines and Sailors from all units worked together to surpass the presented scenarios.
"This realistic and stressful training provided New York's Navy and Marine Corps team numerous opportunities to grow and develop our combined strengths," said Lt. Martin Dineen, plans and tactics officer aboard New York.
"For me it's all about relationships," said Sullivan. "My relationship with the [Amphibious Squadron 4] commander, the captain of [USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7)] and the captains of [USS New York (LPD 21)] and [USS Oak Hill (LSD 51)], couldn't be better. I think it's important for everybody to see that because then it trickles down."
The Iwo Jima ARG and 26th MEU completed COMPTUEX after working through the exercise's complex scenario and gamut of drills. Killman said the achievement was a testament to the highly skilled Sailors and Marines serving with both units, and he has complete faith in their abilities.
"I have no doubt our team is ready to go on deployment," said Kill man.
The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th MEU and is comprised of Iwo Jima, the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2 and the embarked staff of Amphibious Squadron 4.