US Navy’s Iwo Jima amphibious ready group starts deployment workup

Ships from the U.S. Navy’s Iwo Jima amphibious ready group (ARG) got underway off the southeast coast of the United States this month to prepare for their upcoming deployment.

During this phase of preparations, Amphbious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4 and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will be practicing integration in an evolution called PHIBRON-MEU Integrated Training (PMINT).

More than 1,800 sailors from amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), along with more than 1,100 marines from the 26th MEU, will integrate for the first time, to complete a series of exercises designed to enhance interoperability.

“Each individual component has conducted their basic training events on their own, and this is really the first time the band will get back together as a cohesive force to prepare for deployment,” said Capt. James Midkiff, Iwo Jima’s commanding officer. “This entire exercise allows the ship crews, PHIBRON, and the MEU to interact together as one team and respond to tasks rapidly while building the foundation for upcoming real-world operations.”

PMINT is composed of three phases – embarkation, conducting integrated training, and debarkation. The training tests the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) to embark the MEU personnel and conduct integrated warfighting operations through a series of planning exercises, surface gunnery and communication scenarios and air defense exercises.

“All of the various events taking place throughout PMINT are just the beginning of what the Iwo Jima ARG will conduct together over the next few months, as we head into deployment,” said Midkiff. “The goal is to hit the ground running when it is time to deploy and over the next few weeks and months integrate into a cohesive team that will be ready to respond and execute multiple missions.”

Upon the completion of PMINT, the Iwo Jima ARG, commanded by Capt. Kirk A. Weatherly, will continue with its remaining exercises in preparations to deploy in early 2018.

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