USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) and Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 brought Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) to a close Feb. 28.
COMPTUEX, a two-part exercise of scripted and spontaneous simulations, is another step the strike group must complete to be certified ready for deployment.
According to Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 7 Commander Capt. Bradley D. Martin, COMPTUEX further solidified the expeditionary strike group's ability to operate as a single warfighting entity.
“COMPTUEX is a training opportunity that allows us to assess our ability to operate at the warfare commander level,” said Martin. “It allows us to bring the different parts of the strike group together and put them in a threat environment similar to what we would face in the real world.
"It also imposes scenarios allowing us to execute our mission essential tasks as an entire strike group -- everything from interception operations, air defense and various surface actions,” added Martin. “It [is] a full test of our ability to bring it all together.”
BHR Commanding Officer Capt. Steve Greene said the exercise was a step up from the previously completed exercise, Expeditionary Strike Group Integration (ESGINT), where ESG 5 began to improve its ability to operate as an integrated force. Greene said COMPTUEX put this ability to the test and also prepared BHR and the ESG to conduct maritime operations in support of the global war on terrorism.
“One of the biggest differences between COMPTUEX and ESGINT is that we are now being evaluated on how well warfare commanders are integrating and performing basic strike group missions,” said Greene. “That is coordinated air, surface, undersea, and amphibious warfare.”
Greene said BHR's ability to defend the ship against air- and surface-borne attacks and its ability to conduct amphibious operations were also tested.
The 13th Marine Expeditionary Special Operations Capable (MEU SOC) commanding officer, Col. Carl Mundy III, said they were able to utilize the time at sea to further the ESG's ability to effectively employ its amphibious forces.
“This was an opportunity to come together and work all those major muscle movements, in particular, the ship-to-shore piece,” said Mundy. "We can work on the shore piece on our own, and we can do the shipboard stuff by coming aboard BHR in port; but it’s putting the two together that is extremely valuable and completes the package of the ESG.”
Mundy said COMPTUEX was also a great way for Marines to hone their skills and a good example that 13th MEU SOC is in fact mission capable and ready to move to the next phase of training and then on to deployment.
“We are ready to go,” said Mundy. “Of course, we will get better during JTFEX (Joint Task Force Exercise), then again, any time we practice we get better." JTFEX is the next level of training.
Mundy said all of these phases of training are essential in assuring his Marines are ready to conduct operations in a real world environment.
"All of these skills are perishable. If we go a period of time and have not practiced them, they tend to atrophy," said Mundy.
Martin agreed that COMPTUEX has put the entire strike group in a position to move on to the next phase of training and to further ready itself for the upcoming deployment.
“Exercises like this help us to find places where we can be more effective and they help us find better ways of doing business,” said Martin. “So when it comes time to perform in a real world environment, we can really go out and do what ESGs are capable of doing. We can prove that they have the ability to do tremendous things.”
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Emmanuel Rios, USS Bonhomme Richard Public