Camp Pendleton, California --
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have a long history of working together in a maritime environment and training and improving their ability to respond to crises globally while enhancing regional security and stability. Such training is enhanced when coalition partners can also participate.
During Dawn Blitz 2015, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Expeditionary Strike Group-Three train as an amphibious task force and build interoperability with coalition partners including Japan, Mexico and New Zealand.
Four U.S. Navy ships, three Japanese and one Mexican ship are supporting Dawn Blitz 2015.
One highlight during the exercise was a rehearsal of a strait transit, where the eight ships coordinated their defense and positions while passing through a strait as an amphibious task force, Sept. 2, 2015.
“Most transits are executed by one ship at a time or with four ships at a time, but what’s special about this particular one, is not only do we have eight ships, but we also have international figures integrated within the formation,” said Lt. Greg A. Grubbs, a future operations scheduler with ESG-3.
This type of training is extremely valuable because it helps identify possible challenges and find solutions to enhance interoperability.
Grubbs explained that during the transit, one of the ships fell behind and the rest of the ships were able to communicate and slow down to keep the formation intact.
“It’s important to practice maneuvers on this level because it demonstrates and enhances our ability to plan, communicate and execute a range of military operations at sea and ashore.”
The training is important to all countries involved, not only because it strengthens relationships, but it also helps strengthen each nation’s defense forces.
“This training is important for us because we (Japan) are working to build our own amphibious defense capabilities in the next two years,” said Lt. Cmdr. Iwabuchi Haruya. “It’s a unique experience for us to be able to be on the same ship with the U.S. Navy and Marines. This is the first time we were able to work together in this way and it’s an interesting learning experience,” said Maj. Toshinori Ushida, Japanese Ground Self Defense Force tactics instructor.
Security is a critical element of strait transit as the ships can be left vulnerable. Marines aboard the ship play an important role in providing security during the transit.
“3rd LAAD Battalion is one of two GBAD (Ground-Based Air Defense) units in the Marine Corps; that in itself says how important it is for use to be ready to perform our services,” said Staff Sgt. Brain E. Pinson, a low altitude air defense gunner with 3rd LAAD, Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd Marine Air Wing.
“The (M-92) Stinger missile is our primary weapon and it’s always a great opportunity to work with it when we can,” said Pinson. “Although the Marines were working with training Stingers, it’s training none the less.”
Pinson also said that Dawn Blitz provided a bigger picture to look at when it came to the importance of knowing how to communicate not only with the Sailors aboard the ship, but understanding the ability to provide defense for neighboring international ships as well.
“Communication is definitely a huge component when conducting any exercise, whether it is at home or with international forces,” said Pinson. “At times we’re going to be riding along (with any of these forces), so we’re going to have to have that communication, that’s why rehearsal is crucial for us to do together.”
International participation has been incorporated to provide realistic training that leverages capabilities provided by each participant and strengthens relationships necessary to respond to crises and protect shared interests abroad.