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Photo Information

Marines with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, sit on a Light Armored Vehicle atop the flight deck aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) during a defense of the amphibious task force drill, underway in the South China Sea, Sept. 27, 2018. During the training, Marines with BLT 2/5 and crewmen with the Wasp rehearsed ship security using a variety of mounted and dismounted small-arms and heavy weapons. As part of the DATF-D, the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit team assumed a security posture to simulate travelling through potentially dangerous waters. Wasp, flagship of the Wasp ARG, with embarked 31st MEU, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. BLT 2/5 is the Ground Combat Element for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, currently underway aboard the Wasp during a regularly-scheduled patrol of the Indo-Pacific region. The 31st MEU, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed MEU, provides a flexible force ready to perform a wide-range of military operations across the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. E. V. Hagewood/Released)

Photo by Gunnery Sgt. E. V. Hagewood

Wasp ARG, 31st MEU conduct DATF drill in the South China Sea

28 Sep 2018 | (Courtesy article) 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

SOUTH CHINA SEA – USS Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted an integrated Defense of the Amphibious Task Force (DATF) drill at sea Sept. 27.

DATF scenarios focus Navy and Marine Corps forces on defending ARG shipping and the drills allowed the ARG-MEU team to improve their proficiency when integrating fires.

“Increasing the lethality of the Navy-Marine Corps Team is the priority for us. Sailors and Marines are doing amazing work and we are
becoming more lethal every single day,” said Rear Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. “Today, we showed once again why the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps are the premier combat
forces in the western Pacific, reinforcing security and stability in this critical region.”

The DATF drill included firing crew-served weapons attached to Wasp, such as .25 caliber and .50 caliber mounted machine guns. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team (BLT), 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines (2/5) expended rounds using Light Armored Vehicles’ M242 Bushmaster 25 mm chain guns and .50 caliber mounted machine guns on Humvees. The drill also allowed Marine snipers to fire M107 semi-automatic sniper
rifles, and machine gunners to employ lethal fires with M-240B medium machine guns.

Sailors and Marines fired on an inflatable gunnery target commonly called a “killer tomato” while maneuvering in open seas.

“We demonstrated collective combat effectiveness,” said Capt. Jim McGovern, commander of Amphibious Squadron 11. “The ability of these Sailors and Marines to fully integrate, get weapons systems on deck, helicopters in the air, and rounds down range in such a timely manner shows that we are ready for anything. I’m very proud of what this dedicated team of professionals accomplished.”

In addition to deck–based live fire, SH60S Sea Hawk helicopters assigned to the “Island Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 practiced their air defense capabilities, fully integrating air superiority capability with shipboard-fired weapons. The helicopters operated within safe distance of the ship while also observing the firing range from the
air to ensure safe operations during the drill.

“The DATF rehearsal demonstrated the full integration of Marine Corps and Navy capabilities showcasing the intensity of joint firepower available to defend Wasp, and our forces, in a wide range of combat situations,” said Col. Robert Brodie, commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “Our ironclad Blue-Green partnership allows us to continuously hone our lethality through training and exercises, in preparation for any operation.”

While at sea, Wasp and amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) have both conducted live-fire exercises in tandem with the 31st MEU, allowing the ARG-MEU team to enhance their combat effectiveness and maintain proficiency to support contingency operations in the Indo-Pacific region.
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit