The U.S. Navy’s John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (CSG), the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed integrated operations in the Arabian Sea, Dec. 15.
While steaming, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Essex (LHD 2) supported Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, providing armed support to deny terror safe haven in Afghanistan and enable the Afghan Security Forces to set conditions for a political solution.
“Integrated Carrier and Amphibious Ready Group operations demonstrate our unique capabilities and capacity to address diverse mission requirements,” said Rear Adm. Mike Wettlaufer, commander, Carrier Strike Group Three. “Our tightly coordinated maneuvers, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel flight operations, logistics, and training in the North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman demonstrate the Navy and Marine Corps team’s ability to support Allies and partners, ensure the free flow of commerce in the global commons, counter malign actors, and generate combat power when and where required.”
Along with demonstrating their unique and maneuverable combat power by highlighting their carrier air wing and air combat element supporting Operation Freedom Sentinel, the John C. Stennis and the Essex conducted a dynamic division tactics and had to opportunity to cross deck Sailors and Marines, allowing face-to-face discussions between nine departments with common missions and skillsets, and expanding capabilities through joined experiences between two different platforms.
“It was a great opportunity to see how our counterparts in the amphibious Navy conduct Signals Intelligence collection,” said Lt. Yolanda Gutierrez, John C. Stennis’ Cryptologic Warfare Officer. “We can use the knowledge they gained during their deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations and apply it to our own operations, strengthening our process and inputs to the Carrier Strike Group.”
Not only were the operations integrated, but they were joint. The coordination between Marines and Sailors highlighted the unique and close relationship of the services.
“This evolution not only provided the 13th MEU with a unique opportunity to see how the carrier strike group conducts operations, but it provided both forces with a shared understanding of each other’s capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Rudy Salcido, operations officer, 13th MEU.
For this operational period, the John C. Stennis CSG has USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and guided missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) participating. The Essex ARG has have USS Essex (LHD 2) and 13th MEU participating.
U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet