Ships from the America and Essex Amphibious Ready Groups and the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group sail in formation with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force during Exercise Noble Fusion February 7, 2022. US Navy Photo

The United States Marine Corps, United States Navy and Japan Self-Defense Force teamed up in the Philippine and East China Seas to test the ideas behind the Marines’ Force Design 2030 plan.

Noble Fusion, held in early February, tested the Marines’ island-hopping concept with allies.

“Noble Fusion has allowed us to demonstrate our interoperability and validate Force Design 2030 initiatives in our Corps’ theater of main effort on a scale not seen since 2018,” Col. Michael Nakonieczny, commander of the 31st Corps, told reporters. Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The exercise “set the conditions for the next large-scale exercise that will allow us to rehearse our response to any crisis or conflict, on an ever-increasing scale.”

The drills serve as a prelude to a larger-scale exercise between U.S. and Japanese forces scheduled to take place in Japan later this year.

Captain (Navy) Greg Baker, Commodore of Amphibious Squadron 11, said he and Nakonieczny were studying how their forces would operate and use their personnel and equipment in unique ways. “We’re going to try different things, we’re going to try different ways of employing the equipment we have, employing the staff we have and mixing up our teams as best we can,” he said, giving the example of Navy personnel. working with Navy systems and vice versa, ashore and at sea.

A U.S. Marine Corps High Mobility Artillery Rocket System with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), rehearses a fire mission during a security screen at Kin Blue, Okinawa, Japan, 9 February 2022. U.S. Marine Corps Photo

One area of ​​exploration is fire integration, not only between Navy and Marine Corps units and assets, but also with partner nations. During Noble Fusion, Commander Task Force 76, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Congo (DDG-173), 31st MEU Marines operating from a simulated forward expeditionary base and aircraft carrier USS abraham lincoln (CVN-72) participated in a mock practice strike.

USS Dewey (DDG-105) was designated as the opposing force for the simulated strike while an E-2D Hawkeye from abraham lincoln served as a maritime air traffic controller. A P-8A Poseidon, assigned to Task Force 72, provided real-time targeting data to Congothe EAB and the F/A-18E Super Hornet launched since abraham lincoln. Baker said the land-based EAB served as an extension of naval forces. In conjunction with the new concept of maritime warfare, EABs are designed to be rapidly assembled land bases that serve as a sensor and rearming, supply and supply node for allied forces, as well as a launch point for strikes. .

“We could treat this EAB basically like a destroyer. We could find a sea target to pursue and multiple units could engage that target from a destroyer or do it from an EAB by transmitting targeting data, as well as aircraft from land or ships. The ability to strike in the maritime is enhanced by the EAB,” Baker said.

Another use of pedelecs was as a means of refueling. “We worked not only with Marine Corps resupply assets, but we also worked with common resupply assets and we worked to expand that capability,” Baker said. Pendant Noble Fusion11th MEU Marines from the USS Amphibious Warfare Ship Essex (LHD-2) refueled a P-8A Poseidon in a simulated forward landing zone at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa.

Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), left, transits the Philippine Sea with fleet replenishment tanker USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) in support of Noble Fusion, the 4 February 2022. US Navy PhotoCol. Michael Brennan, the operations officer for the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, told USNI News separately that the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group’s participation in Noble Fusion provided an opportunity for CSG 3 and the groups amphibious/maritime expeditionary units to work together to replicate a distributed command and control architecture from multiple locations, as well as coordinating air operations over hundreds of miles of littoral geography in the First Island Chain.

Lessons learned from Noble Fusion included a better understanding of the coordination required to operate two MEU/ARGs alongside a CSG at sea, how to integrate air operations, how to synchronize air strikes involving multiple multi-domain platforms, how coordinate task force amphibious defense with a carrier strike group and JMSDF assets, and how to integrate U.S. Air Force assets with Navy and Marine Corps aviation elements.

USS Expeditionary Sea Base Miguel Keith (ESB-5), which currently serves as the command platform for CTF 76 and Expeditionary Strike Group 7, also participated in the exercise. The Navy has in recent years experimented with the use of other command ship platforms in the Indo-Pacific, other than its task force lead ships and the USS Blueridge (LCC-19). But these experiments were directed towards specific targeted missions, such as the use of expeditionary fast transports for operations and engagements with regional nations. During Noble Fusion, Miguel Keith also served as a training platform for Board Visit, Search and Seizure (VBSS) training by the 31st MEU Marines.

During the exercise, CTF76/ESG7 executed command and control of the composite task force from Miguel Keith. The 7th Mine Countermeasures Squadron and Naval Special Warfare Groups also used Miguel Keith for command and control in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of ​​operations.

During the call, officials said a larger exercise between US and Japanese forces, called Maritime Defense Exercise-Amphiious Rapid Deployment Brigade (MDX – ARDB) will take place later this year in Japan. Nakonieczny and Baker declined to confirm specific dates for the exercises, but said they looked forward to the exercise, which would be on a much larger scale than Noble Fusion and allow them to further develop joint operations with the military. Japanese.

“I want more drills and more abilities added and involved in those drills,” Nakonieczny said.

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