The US Navy’s Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) started their deployment on Mar 25 after completing a month-long composite training exercise.
What makes this deployment special is the first officially confirmed deployment of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle with an East Coast MEU.
The JLTV is a versatile ground transport vehicle now utilized by all ground-based elements within the MEU, providing state-of-the-art protection and technology to troops in tow.
The Oshkosh Defense built JLTVs are being delivered to the US armed forces in a multitude of versions ranging from general purpose to heavy guns carrier. JLTV is replacing the Humvee, which entered service in the 1980s.
In addition to the JLTVs, the MEU embarked with a robust Light-Armored Reconnaissance detachment, in line to the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ new force design.
“As the nation’s crisis response force, the ARG-MEU team must remain ready to respond at a moment’s notice when crises arise,” explained Col. Eric D. Cloutier, commanding officer, 24th MEU. “This exercise gave our team the opportunity to train how we fight across a range of military operations, providing a force-in-readiness to the fleet that is prepared to decisively engage when called upon.”
Prior to officially starting their deployment, 3,700 sailors and marines executed virtual and live evolutions challenging every major warfare area, including responses to surface and subsurface contacts, electronic attacks, surface and air amphibious assaults, and precision air strikes.
Emphasizing flexibility during the month-long evolution, this Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) conducted a company-sized amphibious live-fire raid event. During this raid, nearly 100 marines and sailors converged on targets at Camp Lejeune’s newest range. Finally, the month of ship-to-shore operations culminated with an amphibious assault by a fighting force of nearly 600 marines and sailors.
The Amphibious Ready Group consists of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) which can operate F-35B fighter jets, transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17), and dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50).
Embarked detachments for the Iwo Jima ARG include Amphibious Squadron Four, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Six, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21, Naval Beach Group (NBG) Two, Beach Master Unit (BMU) Two, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) Two and Four, and Sailors from Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) Two.
The 24th MEU consists of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/8, a logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 24, and an aviation combat element, Medium Tilt-Rotor Squadron (VMM) 162 Reinforced.
Also, joining the training ahead of the deployment were destroyers USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68).