US Navy, Marines drill Dawn Blitz kicks off

US sailors and marines from Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 and 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) gathered in Southern California to kick off the amphibious exercise Dawn Blitz 2017.

Dawn Blitz 2017 is a scenario-driven amphibious exercise designed to train and integrate the staffs of ESG-3 and 1st MEB. It provides realistic, relevant training necessary for effective global crisis response expected of the Navy and Marine Corps team.

The exercise kicked off October 20 and will be taking place at sea off the coast of Southern California with participation from ships homeported at Naval Base San Diego including the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).

These ships will integrate with 1st MEB and Coastal Riverine Group 1 to demonstrate how U.S. forces are capable, interoperable and deployable on short notice, while being fully combat ready.

“Dawn Blitz 2017 is an excellent opportunity to operationalize concepts the Navy and Marine Corps services have been discussing for some time,” said Cmdr. Matthew Hoekstra, director of maritime operations for ESG-3 and lead exercise planner for Dawn Blitz. “While others continue to talk, wargame or tabletop future concepts, we are executing with live forces afloat and ashore.”

The exercise consists of various wartime events leading to the deployment of U.S. and allied forces against a hypothetical enemy. Forces will plan and execute an amphibious assault, engage in live-fire events, and establish expeditionary advanced bases in a land and maritime threat environment to improve naval amphibious core competencies.

Unique to this year’s exercise is the integration of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to conduct a sea-based strike. This will allow commanders to validate a capability with platforms not traditionally used at the MEU/ARG level.

Additionally, demonstration of the composite warfare construct and other command and control arrangements will help to promote unity of effort in littoral warfare.

An infantry company from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force will also participate along with observers from Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.

Dawn Blitz 2017 builds upon previous iterations of this exercise and affords the Navy/Marine Corps team the opportunity to capture lessons learned, develop Navy-Marine Corps amphibious staff expertise, and test new capabilities and equipment for the future fight.

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