Thursday, December 22, 2011

Iwo Jima ARG Completes COMPTUEX

By Lt. Megan M. Shutka, PHIBRON 8 Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) successfully completed Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) Dec. 21, moving one step closer to being certified and better prepared for deployment.

The Iwo Jima ARG consists of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8 and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

"COMPTUEX was a challenging operating environment that tested us," said Captain Mark H. Scovill, the commodore of PHIBRON 8. "We are thankful for the enormous investment tax payers have given for our training. No other Navy has invested as much in its Sailors and its deployers than the U.S. Navy. There's no one out working harder than the 24 MEU PHIBRON 8 team so the results were completely predictable. This blue-green team is ready for CERTEX and any other challenge."

COMPTUEX was meant to test the 24th MEU and PHIBRON 8 aboard all three ships in conducting various missions they could face while deployed. The exercise focused on building cohesion between the 24th MEU and PHIBRON 8 in conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations while operating from the sea.

"To conclude COMPTUEX with an amphibious assault is a great way to highlight the bond with PHIBRON 8 and the MEU," said Col. Frank Donovan, commanding officer of 24th MEU. "COMPTUEX was to prove and test and challenge our 'mechanics' of ship to objective maneuver. COMPTUEX provided more than expected challenges. I walk away with great appreciation for the leadership of PHIBRON 8, the three great ships and appreciation for adaptable, flexible and combat power the ARG/MEU team can deliver from the sea on time and on target."

The Iwo Jima ARG executed more than 100 training evolutions to include air defense; counter targeting; live fire; low, slow flier exercises; and maritime security operations from Nov. 29 to Dec. 21. Including the Iwo Jima ARG, 16 Navy vessels set the stage for COMPTUEX's intense simulated deployed training environment, including four Canadian navy vessels, over the course of three weeks.

COMPTUEX is a requirement for certification for deployment, testing multiple abilities across the ships. The exercise is designed to train the ship, embarked air wing and other units that make up the ARG to function as one highly effective fighting force. Evaluators from Commander Strike Force Training Atlantic ensured the ARG's units were exercised in all warfare areas.

"During COMPTUEX, it is vitally important to challenge the training audience for deployment," said Rear Adm. Dennis E. FitzPatrick, commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic, who was embarked aboard Iwo Jima for the exercise. "This exercise is designed to teach you the skill sets which you need to be successful and accomplish your mission on deployment. The ARG MEU team did very well and should be very proud. It was an integrated complex exercise."

The Iwo Jima ARG's upcoming schedule includes Certification Exercise (CERTEX) and Bold Alligator shortly after the New Year, with a scheduled deployment in Spring 2012.