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Navy, Marines unite for multi-week amphibious exercise off California

A helicopter lands on a ship of the U.S. Navy's Essex Amphibious Ready Group during exercises that concluded on Thursday with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
A helicopter lands on a ship of the U.S. Navy's Essex Amphibious Ready Group during exercises that concluded on Thursday with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

May 28 (UPI) -- Integrated training of a Marine Corps expeditionary unit and a combined Navy and Marine amphibious ready group in California was a success, the Navy said on Friday.

The three-ship Essex Amphibious Ready Group and the 11th Marines Expeditionary Unit conducted a multi-week "training evolution" involving over 5,000 personnel that concluded on Thursday, a statement said.

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Working as an integrated amphibious force, the two groups trained in exercises concluding with "a full-scale amphibious offload and assault of nearly 1,300 Marines and sailors."

The Essex group is composed of the Landing Helicopter Dock ship USS Essex, amphibious transport dock USS Portland and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor.

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The 11th MEU is a Marine Air Ground Task Force with a command element, a reinforced infantry battalion, a composite helicopter squadron and a logistics combat element.

Together they are designated an ARG/MEU, and the exercise offered an opportunity to practice mutual tactics. Naval Special Warfare SEAL, Boat and Reconnaissance units with the ARG/MEU also participated in the training on the Southern California coast.

The statement on Friday noted that the exercise also included support of the MEU's rehearsal of EABO [Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations], which a 2018 Marine Corps handbook described as "a future naval operational concept that meets the resiliency and forward presence requirements of the next paradigm of U.S. Joint expeditionary operations."

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"This underway period provided an exceptional opportunity to train as a fully integrated Navy and Marine Corps team," Col. James Lively, the 11th MEU commanding officer, said in the Navy release on Friday.

"We were challenged to adapt to various scenarios and mission requirements all while conducting sustained, multi-domain naval expeditionary operations. We were able to exercise the full range of ARG/MEU capabilities in a dynamic and realistic training environment," Lively said.

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