The ESG concept combines the capabilities of surface action groups, submarines, and maritime patrol aircraft with those of amphibious ready groups (ARGs) and Marine expeditionary units (MEUs) (special operations capable) to provide greater combat capabilities to theater combatant commanders. An expeditionary strike force (ESF) integrates the CSG and ESG with the sea-basing functions provided by the maritime prepositioning force (future) to provide an even more potent capability.
The United States Navy has always been involved in moving the U.S. Marine Corps by sea, with and without other naval forces. One of these concepts was the amphibious ready group (ARG). An ARG consists of a group of various ships known as an Amphibious Task Force (ATF), plus a Landing Force (LF), which normally consisted of United States Marine Corps troops, and, on occasion, could consist of United States Army troops.
In the early 1990s, the U.S. Navy introduced a new concept based on the ARG, the naval expeditionary task force or, as it is also known, the expeditionary strike group (ESG). The ESG is similar to the ARG except that with the ESG concept, the U.S. Navy would be able to deploy almost double the number of independent operational groups, from 19 to 38.[dubious – discuss][according to whom?] In addition, the ESG included surface warships and submarine escorts.
As originally envisioned in the 1990s, the ESG concept allowed the Navy to field 12 expeditionary strike groups and 12 carrier strike groups, in addition to surface action groups centered on Iowa class battleships. Thus, the Navy and Marine Corps forces could launch Marines via landing craft and helicopters as warships and submarines struck inland targets with aircraft, missiles and shells. However, defense budget reductions in the mid-1990s, coupled with retirements of older aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships without one-for-one replacements, has reduced the original 12 x 12 ESG/CSG construct to fewer groups due to fewer ship hulls to support those said groups.
Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group – USS Peleliu(LHA-5) - in September 1997, USS Peleliu ARG took part in Fleet Battle Experiment – Bravo's "Silent Fury" phase along with the Constellation Carrier Battle Group. The Peleliu ARG was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1997 and participated in Exercise Eager Mace 98.
Expeditionary Strike Group 2 – In 1978, Amphibious Group 2 comprised Amphibious Squadron 2, Amphibious Squadron 4, Amphibious Squadron 6, and Amphibious Squadron 8, all at Norfolk, VA. In 1984 it still comprised the same four squadrons, parenting a mix of LHAs, LKAs, LPHs, LPDs, LSDs, and LSTs. The command also included USS Mount Whitney(LCC-20) and USS Coronado(AGF-11). Commander, Amphibious Group 2 was disestablished 31 December 2006, and commissioned as Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, in accordance with orders from the Chief of Naval Operations. This culminated nearly a year of preparation to become an operational command ready to deploy to the Middle East. Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2 is an Echelon 4 command, previously reporting to Commander, U.S. Second Fleet. In 1978, USS Francis Marion(LPA-249), a Naval Reserve Force ship, was assigned to Amphibious Group 2.
USS Essex ESG (ESG-FDNF early 2003). The USS Essex (LHD-2) is the second ship in the all new Wasp class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships and was commissioned on 17 October 1992 in San Diego, California. The mission of the Essex is to conduct prompt, sustained combat operations at sea, as the centerpiece of the Navy's amphibious strategy, from the Sea.Essex ESG is also known as ESG 7 and is led by the Commander, Task Force 76.
Command Element (CE) – Serves as the headquarters for the entire unit and allows a single command to exercise control over all ground, aviation, and combat service support forces.
Ground Combat Element (GCE) – Provides the MAGTF with its main combat punch. Built around a Marine infantry battalion, the GCE is reinforced with tanks, artillery, amphibious vehicles, engineers, and reconnaissance assets.
Aviation Combat Element (ACE) – Consists of a composite medium helicopter squadron containing transport helicopters of various models and capabilities, attack helicopters and jets, air defense teams, and all necessary ground support assets.
Logistics Combat Element (LCE) – Providing the MAGTF with mission-essential support such as medical/dental assistance, motor transport, supply, equipment maintenance, and landing is the mission of the LCE.
The Aviation Command Element now consists of VMM composite squadron. The CH-46 was retired from active service and replaced with the MV-22B aircraft.
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