April 19th, 2007 09:25 EST
Expeditionary Strike Group 3
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- After months of detailed preparation, the Commander Amphibious Group (CPG) 3 staff completed their transition to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 on April 17.
This finalized a change from an administrative staff supporting operational units to an operational command focused on expeditionary operations.
“The CPG 3 staff has been preparing for a long time now,” said Rear Adm. Mark Balmert, Commander, ESG 3. “The staff first demonstrated their operational capability when they deployed in support of Tsunami relief in 2005. During the deployment, they conducted critical humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations -- one of the ESG’s mission areas.”
Unlike CPG 3, which provided ships with manning, training and material support, ESG 3 will be strictly operational, preparing ESG forces for deployment and maintaining proficiencies as a staff to provide fleet commanders with a ready fly-away command element that is extremely flexible in mission assignment.
“It is almost second nature for the staff to be operational now, which made the transition to a full- time ESG easier,” Balmert said.
By expanding the traditional Amphibious Ready Group deployment concept through the addition of the flag staff and expanding the force structure to include cruisers, destroyers, guided missile frigates and submarines, ESGs can complete a wider array of operations. In addition to the capability of providing humanitarian assistance in response to terrorist attacks or natural disasters, ESGs have the capability to deliver combat operations in the form of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), lead expeditionary forces in conducting non-combatant evacuation operations, and to deny terrorists and other enemies use of the sea lanes through maritime interdiction missions.
Additionally, ESGs bring robust cruise missile strike capability and self-defense in anti-submarine warfare (ASW), air defense and surface warfare dimensions.
“We can still do the traditional ARG missions and, additionally, we have strike capability, anti-submarine and anti-air defense and a more robust mine warfare potential,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mick Bastian, ESG 3’s deputy operations officer. “This range of missions makes ESGs very relevant in today’s world where most missions are conducted in the littoral waters.”
Critical to meeting future mission requirements is the continual training of staff, shipboard and MEU personnel to operate as a cohesive organization. Prior to deployments, ESGs are required to complete three work-up evolutions: a pre-deployment integrated exercise, a composite training unit exercise and a joint task force exercise. These maneuvers implement real-world scenarios and are intended to prepare strike groups for events that may occur during a deployment.
“The biggest gain is learning to adjust, applying lessons learned from previous operations, and making changes in order to accomplish the mission,” said Col. Mario Enriquez, Deputy Commander, ESG 3. “When you combine the ships and the marine expeditionary units, the command becomes a stronger force.”
ESG 3 will fully realize the importance of this training when they relieve ESG 2 as the command element of Task Force 59 (CTF 59) in the 5th Fleet area of operations in 2008. Previously deployed ESGs have conducted emergency disaster relief operations in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in addition to evacuating U.S. citizens from Lebanon in 2006.
“We are ready to deploy now,” said Balmert. “I could not be prouder of the work this staff has done to prepare for deployed operations.”
While preparing to meet potential requirements overseas, an ESG also trains to maintain the necessary readiness to assist civil authorities, such as during Hurricane Katrina. In order to prepare for these types of missions, the ESG 3 staff conducts joint training exercises with civil agencies and the Army.
“During Exercise Golden Guardian, we trained with the Army and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in response to a simulated earthquake in San Francisco. This training developed essential skills, which would be necessary to meeting the demands of a crisis for our nation at home,” said Balmert. “This is important, as not only are we a fighting force, but we are a ready force whose diverse skills make us uniquely qualified to respond to just about any situation that may come up. That is one of ESG’s greatest strengths: its diverse capability.”
With the establishment of ESG 3 as an operational command, the responsibility for manning, training and equipping naval forces will shift to the newly developing class squadrons (CLASSRONs) as part of the commander of Naval Surface Forces’ initiative to more efficiently maintain a ready fleet. CLASSRONs will work closely with ESG 3 to fully ensure units meet the demands of the 21st century.
Balmert said, “This transition is very exciting. Operations at sea are the heart of what the Navy and Marine Corps team is about.”
For more information about ESG 3, visit the command’s Web site at www.esg3.navy.mil.
By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) J. L. Chirrick and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Roosevelt Ulloavaldivieso, Expeditionary Strike Group 3 Public Affairs