CHESTER HAS MOVED!: 15th MEU Concept of Operations Insight

Monday, January 03, 2005

15th MEU Concept of Operations Insight

Upon arrival in the Indian Ocean in the next three days or so, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit will begin what is known as "split-ARG operations." ARG stands for Amphibious Ready Group and represents the ships that the MEU is embarked upon. The ARG that the MEU is inhabiting consists of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), the USS Duluth (LPD-6), and the USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52). "Split ARG" means that the battle group will split into two parts and conduct separate missions independently of each other. According to this article on the 15th MEU site, the USS Bonhomme Richard will head toward Sri Lanka, while the USS Duluth will stay near Indonesian waters. The article doesn't mention where the Pearl Harbor is headed, but we think it will stay with the Bonhomme Richard. Perhaps the Bonhomme Richard is headed to Sri Lanka because there are few operable airfields on the island and its deck will have to do, or perhaps because it has a greater command and control capability for operating independently. We'll see when things develop. The subordinate elements of the MEU are being split between these two parts of the ARG. The Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, along with the Air Combat Element, HMM-165, and the MEU Service Support Group-15 (MSSG-15), or the combat service support element, are all more or less halving themselves and their equipment and figuring out how to divvy up what they possess. While 2200 Marines in a MEU sounds like a lot, they are spread extremely thin in many areas, like maintenance, supply and engineering. As a combat engineer, I participated in a number of exercises meant to simulate planning for deploying on a MEU with an Engineer Support Detachment, part of the MEU Service Support Group. The entire detachment is only around 35 Marines, and the entire MSSG is only about 250, though headed by a Lieutenant Colonel. The MSSG is by far the most thinly spread of all the embarked commands and figuring out how to accomplish what needs to be done with the assets at hand is one of the trickier aspects of planning. MEU staffs usually become very creative in accomplishing different objectives. Interestingly enough, the Commanding Officer of MSSG-15 this time around, LtCol Hatton, is a veteran of the LA riots and Operation Sea Angel. The CO and XO of 1st Bn, 1st Marines have equally interesting resumes. More on the upcoming operation as it develops . . .


Blogger Mike said...

Great info, Chester! My son is with the 15th MEU. We're very proud of him.

Just a couple of corrections. The third ARG ship is the USS Rushmore, not the Pearl Harbor.

And they've just changed their plans. Sri Lanka won't take all those Marines because of political concerns. (sheesh) So the BHR and Duluth are going to the sourthen coast of Sumatra (the Lincoln group is on the northern coast). And only the Rushmore is going to Sri Lanka.

Here is my site for this deployment. It has links, articles and info on the group:

And here's the latest article from Asia about the change of orders:

Thanks again!

January 4, 2005 at 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son is on the Rushmore and our last contact was that they were waiting orders to go ashore.
I did see some Marines on (land) a few days ago unloading material so I'm sure he is there .
Take care and watch each others back...

January 7, 2005 at 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike - Glad I found this site! My son is also with the 15th MEU and onboard the USS Rushmore. I'm always looking for sites to find out more info. We are so proud of our son too! He is with Alpha Co. Weapons Pltn. Thanks for the links and articles, I appreciate it!

March 30, 2005 at 10:46 AM  

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