31st MEU, America ARG Conduct VBSS Rehearsal in South China Sea

 In China, Air, Forces & Capabilities, Oceans, P5

The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) exe­cut­ed a sim­u­lat­ed visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) mis­sion, in South China Sea, September 6.

The exer­cise began with detailed plan­ning across all three ships assigned to the America ARG. During the exe­cu­tion, dock land­ing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) posed as a for­eign ship that had been iden­ti­fied as a non-com­pli­ant vessel trans­port­ing illic­it cargo, while amphibi­ous trans­port dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibi­ous assault ship USS America (LHA 6) car­ried out the sim­u­lat­ed mis­sion.

Marines with the Maritime Raid Force (MRF), 31st MEU assault­ed LSD 42 from the air, fast roping to the deck from Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk heli­copters assigned to the Archangels of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 Detachment 6 and a CH-53E Super Stallion assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262.

MRF Marines cut through sim­u­lat­ed bar­ri­ers and entered the ship, clear­ing through the ship’s narrow pas­sage­ways to detain hos­tile forces and locate the notion­al cache of ille­gal weapons. The 31st MEU’s MRF is made up of a Force Reconnaissance Platoon, an Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon, and a secu­ri­ty ele­ment.

“The Force Reconnaissance Platoon is trained and cer­ti­fied through mul­ti­ple cours­es and many hours of instruc­tion, ensur­ing they are tac­ti­cal­ly and tech­ni­cal­ly pro­fi­cient at mar­itime inter­dic­tion oper­a­tions,” said the FRP com­man­der, Capt. Alexander Lizotte; “I have full con­fi­dence in the abil­i­ty of each member of my pla­toon to suc­cess­ful­ly plan and exe­cute VBSS.”

Every MEU trains to this mis­sion, how­ev­er, as the only con­tin­u­ous­ly for­ward deployed MEU, the 31st MEU must be pre­pared to exe­cute VBSS in the Indo-Pacific region at any time, includ­ing con­test­ed waters in the South China Sea. The abil­i­ty to exe­cute VBSS is a key part of the 31st MEU’s role in ensur­ing secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty in the Indo-Pacific region.

“As a for­ward deployed MEU, we pro­vide the most flex­i­ble and respon­sive capa­bil­i­ty in the world to inter­dict inter­na­tion­al threats at sea,” said Capt. Steven Anderson, ARP com­man­der for the 31st MEU. “Executing VBSS is an exam­ple of the effec­tive­ness and lethal­i­ty of the Navy-Marine Corps team,” Anderson said.

The United States remains com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and inter­na­tion­al law of the sea, and the 31st MEU’s abil­i­ty to exe­cute VBSS mis­sions con­tributes to these broad­er objec­tives.

“The Commandant of the Marine Corps gave spe­cif­ic instruc­tion in his plan­ning guid­ance to be first on the scene, first to help, first to con­tain a brew­ing crisis, and if required to do so, first to fight. The tac­ti­cal dis­ci­pline and aggres­sive action dis­played this week­end by the Sailors and Marines of Amphibious Squadron 11 and the 31st MEU demon­strates to our Commandant, our allies and part­ners, and our adver­saries that we are pre­pared to do just that,” said Col. Michael Nakonieczny, com­mand­ing offi­cer of the 31st MEU.

The 31st MEU and America ARG oper­at­ed in the South China Sea for a short time before moving on to con­tin­ue planned exer­cis­es else­where in the region.

The America ARG – 31st MEU team is oper­at­ing in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of oper­a­tions to enhance inter­op­er­abil­i­ty with allies and part­ners and serve as a ready crisis response force to defend peace and sta­bil­i­ty in the Indo-Pacific region.

DefPost source|articles

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