USS KEARSARGE, At Sea -- Sailors from the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marines from assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) Feb. 17.
COMPTUEX is designed to prepare and assess the ships in the ARG individually and as a unit prior to deployment.
The Kearsarge ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4 and the 26th MEU, embarked with the ARG.
"This COMPTUEX has been very successful," said Capt. Brad Skillman, commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4. "Everyone in the ARG pulled together and worked hard to make sure that we met all of our goals for the exercise. This shows that we are ready to deploy and will be able to readily handle any challenges that may arise." Each ship ran through a series of drills that tested the ARG's ability to respond to different scenarios such as general quarters, non-combatant evacuation operations, and visit, board, search and seizure operations.
"COMPTUEX validated our ability to carry out any mission," said Capt. Rick Nielsen, commanding officer of Kearsarge. "It helped us ensure our readiness before we deploy this spring and it also tested our training and responsiveness. The scenarios pushed our crew to the limit and proved that the extensive training was superior to any training received through the exercise period and well worth the time and effort."
The three-week exercise also helped to develop cooperation between the different units involved by allowing them to practice responding together to various plausible scenarios.
"The scenarios mirror real-world circumstances that we are possibly going to face in some of the areas in which we are going to be operating," said Cmdr. Greg Blyden, commanding officer of Carter Hall. "The brisk pace of operations helped prepare the crew for what could be expected of the ARG and how rapidly a situation could escalate."
Key components of COMPTUEX are communication and cooperation not only between the ships but also between the Sailors and Marines aboard.
"COMPTUEX prepares the ships for deployment in a safe environment with subject matter experts and mentors available to answer questions," said Cmdr. Neil A. Koprowski, commanding officer of San Antonio. "It is also important to garner the blue/green relationships to ensure seamless transitions. There are missions that are inherently Navy, but there are many more that are inherently Marine. You have to find the balance and COMPTUEX allows the ships, the staffs and the MEU that opportunity." During COMPTUEX the three ships and the 26th MEU showed that they are ready to deploy and to respond to any number of missions. "They performed magnificently, and I am honored to stand beside them," said Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, commanding officer of the 26th MEU. "I am confident this team is ready for the challenges of the dynamic and uncertain operational environment we will encounter during our deployment."